The announcement that Kim Ng has been named general manager of the Miami Marlins is rightfully being celebrated as meaningful progress for women in the male-dominated sports world. Becky Hammon has a different goal in a different sport, and the obvious question is whether Ng’s promotion will give her a boost.
Kim Ng and the Miami Marlins have made history
For the first time in history, a team in a major American sports league has hired a woman to serve as general manager, thereby putting her in charge of hiring the coaching staff and making decisions on players to sign, trade, or release. The Miami Marlins made their decision public on Friday, announcing that they had hired Kim Ng from the MLB executive staff.
At 51 years old, Ng has already spent 30 years in major-league baseball. She didn’t play the sport, but she’s been in MLB since graduating from the University of Chicago.
She was already an assistant general manager to Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees before she turned 30 years old. Ng held the same title with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has also spent significant time as the VP of baseball operations in the MLB executive suite.
With the front-office glass ceiling now shattered, the question becomes how long it will take for a woman to be appointed head coach of a team in one of the major professional men’s sports. If it happens any time soon, then Becky Hammon could very well be that person.
Kim Ng had supporters within the Miami Marlins
Arguably the best part of the Miami Marlins hiring Kim Ng is that she may have benefited from the “old boys network” that has been criticized for decades for holding back worthy minority candidates in sports.
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, the Hall of Fame shortstop, had known Ng since his days as a New York Yankees star while she was working in the front office. Marlins manager Don Mattingly worked with her when he was in the Dodgers organization as a coach and manager. It’s difficult to imagine the Marlins making the hire if either Jeter or Mattingly had reservations about Ng.
Becky Hammon doesn’t have the same network of friends in high places to give her a boost, but she’s getting there thanks to 16 seasons as a player in the WNBA, splitting time equally between New York and San Antonio, and as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs.
Becky Hammon has solid connections in San Antonio
Becky Hammon has been an assistant coach on Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs staff since 2014, making her the first woman to hold that position in the NBA full-time.
Learning at the side of a head coach with five NBA championships looks great on a resume, and Hammon has had real responsibilities with the Spurs. The team turned its NBA Summer League team over to Hammon in 2015, and she responded by directing the squad to the championship.
Hammon also interviewed with the Milwaukee Bucks for the general manager’s job in 2017, although becoming a head coach is more likely to be her next step.
“I’ve always been kind of a natural coach and teacher. I think that’s something that’s just how I was made,” she told Awful Announcing.
Hammon is looking forward to breaking through another glass ceiling.
“It’s just an archaic idea to think that women can’t lead men, that character and leadership qualities are only to the male of the species,” Hammon said. “When you’re talking about situational things and things of the mind and things of the heart, women should be in the mix every time.”