WSF founder Billie Jean King presents Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians with the Champion for Equality award, as Arians has consistently shown a commitment to providing women with opportunities in the NFL. Watch the full Women’s Sports Foundation's Annual Salute to Women in Sports presented by Yahoo Sports here.
- The Champions for Equality Award is given to someone who has shown unwavering commitment to gender equality and the advancement of girls and women in sports. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians made NFL history by hiring two women to his staff. We bring in Hall of Fame broadcaster, Andrea Kremer, to take a look at a true champion on and off the field.
ANDREA KREMER: Every person has the potential to achieve outstanding things. But for women everywhere, that potential can be cut short by gender discrimination and inequity. One person who's trying to make a difference is Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When Arians took over in 2019, he made NFL history by hiring two women for his coaching staff.
LORI LOCUST: Bruce, for anyone that follows this path or anything they have a passion about, to find that one person who is willing to give you a chance, who is willing to sort of step out of the norm because they see something in you, it's just life changing.
MARAL JAVADIFAR: Bruce Arians, three things come to mind when I hear his name. One is authentic, one is honorable, and empowering.
CARCIE GLAZER KASSEWITZ: Bruce believes in hiring the best person for the job, regardless of gender. And the fact that we have two female coaches is really a testament to his process. And hopefully, people start thinking differently about what a coach can look like.
LORI LOCUST: When they go from saying yes ma'am to yes coach. In my mind, that's a success. Because I've taken their mind off the fact that I might look a little bit different. And now they're treating me the same way that they would treat any other coach that they've ever had.
MARAL JAVADIFAR: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers valuing gender equality is such an important factor. And we're doing that here at Tampa Bay.
CARCIE GLAZER KASSEWITZ: Flag football is the fastest growing sport in the country. And it's really vital to us to highlight and inspire girls who play this game. So we host the largest flag football tournament in the nation with over 1,000 athletes and 50 teams. We also launched our girls in football scholarship. And this is an academic scholarship, providing support to female football players so they can pursue a career in sports.
LORI LOCUST: Bruce sort of mirrors the philosophy of the Bucs and vise versa. It's very rare to me to see somebody who's just very open to acknowledging that there's potential everywhere. It's not a gender based type of role. So this isn't something that he just started doing, this is part of his fabric.
ANDREA KREMER: As Michelle Obama has said, and I quote, "No country can ever truly flourish if its stiples the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contribution of half its citizens." Bruce Arians has the character and conviction to be a role model for how to champion equality, not only in sports, but in all aspects of society.
- Presenting tonight's Champion for Equality Award to coach Bruce Arians is someone who has been a beacon of equality her entire life, the founder of the Women's Sports Foundation, Billie Jean King.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I couldn't think of anyone more deserving of the champion equality award than Coach Arians of the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I just want to thank you so much. You're so great. I know that you could hire anybody you want. But not just one woman coach, you've actually hired two full time women coaches. Tell me how that's worked out.
BRUCE ARIANS: It's been fantastic. I mean, very, very qualified individuals. Maral and Lori are fantastic coaches. They do a great job. Our players love and respect them so much. And they're really helping us win.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Did you get any pushback or resistance hiring women?
BRUCE ARIANS: Not at all. Our organization is so inclusive. And, you know, Darcy Glazer Kassewitz is amazing. And the Bucks organization themselves, I think, are the front runners in handling inclusiveness and diversity on staffs and in our building. And no repercussions. It was just, let's go. If they're the best people to help you win, let's hire them.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Do you think more and more women might be hired for the NFL as time goes on? Do you think other teams are committed? I know San Francisco already is. But what about some of the other teams in the NFL?
BRUCE ARIANS: I saw where Denver hired a full time female strength coach. And I think it's catching on. And there's so many qualified women who are great teachers. And that's really coach-- coaching is just glorified schoolteachers and that's what we do. That's what we do.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I remember you telling me that. I remember asking you, coach, what's the most important thing as a coach? And you said teacher.
BRUCE ARIANS: Yeah, that said, I mean, you can know all the football in world. If you can't teach it, it doesn't do you any good. And most of the great teachers I had were female. So it's just knowing your craft. Every player in the NFL, if you can look at them and say, hey, this will make you better, they're going listen. They don't care where it comes from.
BILLIE JEAN KING: And what advice would you give to girls and women that want to be maybe make a break through in the NFL.
BRUCE ARIANS: Yeah, I mean, it's the same thing I told my daughter a long time ago. Anything is out there for you. All right, work hard, put your nose to the grind, and don't give up. Don't ever give up. Just keep fighting for it.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, Coach Arian, we're so happy. Congratulations again. Thank you for being with us. And keep going for it. Good luck. Keep going for it.
BRUCE ARIANS: Thank you. And I can't say enough to you, thank you so much. I've looked at you all my life as one of the fiercest competitors and just love watching you play when you were playing tennis and the great things you're doing now.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, thanks so much, coach. Good luck.
BRUCE ARIANS: Thank you.