August 21, 2001, - 1:05 am

When Coach is a Chick

By Debbie Schlussel

Your son’s football team coached by a woman? That’s the goal of feminist groups and Title IX advocates.

The WNBA and “equal opportunity” for female athletes in high-school and college sports are just the horrific stepping stones. While women’s groups want to take as much opportunity as they can away from male athletes, they also want to take over the head coaching positions, too – on men’s teams.

The latest example of this misguided effort is Geraldine Fuhr.

Fuhr was turned down for the position of head coach of the boys varsity basketball team at Hazel Park High School in Hazel Park, Mich., in favor of a male candidate with less experience. She sued and, this month, was awarded $455,000 in damages by an all-female jury. Even more ludicrous, Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley compared Fuhr to Joan of Arc, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony.

Puh-leeze. Harriet Tubman fought slavery. This woman fought the rules of nature and the best interests of the young men on the team. She could have been the women’s head coach, but in her own sex-discrimination, insisted on coaching the men.

Leave it to women like these to lack comprehension of the dynamics of men’s sports and what it takes to make men win. It’s a fight – a war – and estrogen is an unwanted ingredient.

In her suit, Fuhr contended she was the victim of sex discrimination – that the school district didn’t hire her because she’s a woman. But what’s so wrong about that?

Coaching high-school boys is one of many jobs where sex discrimination is not only justified, it should be a requirement. Young, high-school-aged boys need a male coach. They need a father figure on the sidelines – a man to show them how to be a man. That’s what they learn both on and off the court and field when they play competitive sports. Those are the real rules of the game.

But with suits like Fuhr’s, filed and litigated by Deborah Gordon – Michigan’s version of feminist attorney Gloria Allred – there are few places left where boys can be boys and learn how to be men. That’s besides the locker-room issues.

Fuhr’s suit is only the latest salvo in the war against boys and growing young men. Where once boys high-school and men’s collegiate sports teams were the last bastion for masculine values – learned through a male coach in brutish male-against-male competition – that, too, has come to pass. Feminist groups (like LesbiaNation and the Feminist Majority Foundation, headed by former NOW President Eleanor Smeal), activist female coaches (like Olympic Women’s Basketball Coach Nell Fortner and Boise State’s Connie Thorngren) and athletic directors (like Thorngren and San Jose State’s Chuck Bell) whine constantly about the lack of women coaching men.

And the pros are a target of the feminists, too. First, the WNBA. Then, the NBA.

It might sound farfetched, but one week after Fuhr’s court victory, the NBA’s minor league hired a woman as assistant head coach.

Milton Barnes, head coach of the Greenville, S.C., Grooves of the NBA’s National Basketball Development League, hired Stephanie Ready as his assistant. Ready “pioneered” in this area as assistant coach for Coppin State’s Men’s Basketball Team. A failed head coach at Eastern Michigan University, Barnes’ latest move shows him to be a failure all over again.

How will a woman be able to motivate and discipline players in what’s supposed to be a paramilitary professional sports operation? Will they try that much harder, hoping she’ll accept a date?

Recruiting? Forget it. When a young male athlete has a choice to go to this team or that team, he won’t choose the one with a woman bossing him around. Believe it. That’s just the law of nature and the way that men and women interact. Ask any man who works for a woman. They hate it. Multiply that geometrically when they are testosterone-filled athletes and she’s coach.

And that’s the way it should be. There is no legitimate reason women must occupy every single profession. But there are legitimate reasons why they must not occupy several professions. Like military combat – and probably the military, entirely.

To take the sting out of it, feminist groups call it “cross-gender coaching.” And, of course, the propaganda abounds in favor of women coaches – not in reality, but in Hollywood. The two best-known and best-forgotten movies about women coaching boys are 1978’s “Coach” – starring Cathy Lee Crosby and Michael Biehn (with an appearance by former NBA star Sidney Wicks) – and the 1986 dud, “Wildcats” – starring Goldie Hawn (with supporting appearances by rapper LL Cool J, Woody Harrelson, and Wesley Snipes).

In “Coach,” Crosby plays an Olympic gold medalist who coaches a high-school basketball team. Despite the parents’, administrators’ and players’ objections, she gets the job by lying and using a shortened, unisex version of her name on the application, threatening a lawsuit and flirting with key decision makers. Then, she has a sexual affair with an under-aged player, and – voila! – achieves what only a female coach of men could do; this loser team wins the championship and players get college scholarships. This doesn’t happen in real life. Except the sexual affair, one of the potential problems with having a woman lead this very masculine, conquest-oriented activity.

Similarly, in “Wildcats,” a single mother raises her two kids, fights off her evil ex-husband (all ex-husbands are evil in Tinsel Town) and his sleazy girlfriend (all ex-husbands have one in Hollywood’s view) and raises an inner city high-school football team – made up of drug dealers, criminals, pimps and the underprivileged – from loser status to conference champions. Again, the college scholarships come rolling in. And, not only does a single mother save the day, she is “Coach,” too.

It’s no coincidence that both of these movies are listed on websites featuring the worst movies ever made, including rottentomatoes.com. They’re pure fantasy. The reality is that male players will never respect female coaches, and they won’t win games for them.

Rotten tomatoes aside, women coaching men is a recipe for disaster.

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