November 01, 2011
Hold onto your baseball caps: the Los Angeles Dodgers might have done something right. As the embarrassing era of Frank McCourt's ownership reaches its end, the Dodgers made a historic hire Monday, one that ought to benefit the players.
The club announced that Sue Falsone has been named head athletic trainer, the first woman in the history of major U.S. professional sports at that position. Falsone had been the team's physical therapist since 2007.
It's stupefying that it took so long for a team to hire a woman. There are no women in any of the major U.S. pro sports even on the verge of reaching Falsone's position. And it's crazy. Major-league players aren't going to get the best possible care unless teams use the best possible candidates for trainers, and excluding the female half of the population is no way to ensure the best of anything. As Ken Gurnick wrote at MLB.com, it makes sense that the Dodgers broke the glass ceiling:
The Dodgers' legacy is nothing if not one of trailblazing, from Jackie Robinson to the move west out of Brooklyn, N.Y., from Mexico's Fernando Valenzuela to Japan's Hideo Nomo.
"It's ironic that people think the change is about me being a woman, and that's not really the change," Falsone said. "It's us as a medical staff and dealing with injures — that's what the change is going to be. We'll look at things differently. We'll have different principles of injury management and hopefully decrease the injury rate. That's what's exciting. We'll look at the processes in place and evaluate with a critical eye."
But there will be nothing new about the day-to-day interactions with the players. Falsone says she's "never" encountered resistance from a male athlete because she's a woman.
"I've worked with males the last decade, and that's all I know," Falsone said.
And there's no good reason to stop her.
Falsone will remain as a vice president with Athletes Performance in Phoenix. Andre Ethier(notes), a Phoenix native and Dodgers slugger, has worked with Falsone in both places. He seems to be for her promotion.
"I'm happy about it," Ethier said of her appointment. "It's good news for the team, training-wise. It's nice to have a different frame of mind. I have confidence working with her over the last nine years. If you know AP's approach, they are very forward-looking, and it's proven successful."
Here's to the Dodgers, and to Falsone keeping them healthy.
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