#BlackHistoryMonth | The Rooney Rule

In celebration of Black History Month 2020, I wanted to create a few visualizations that focused on the topic of Black history. This first one of my BHM series is a visualization on The Rooney Rule. This dashboard will help viewers understand the context and effects of the Rule, as well as work that needs to be done to ensure fair hiring practices in the NFL.

The Background

With the Super Bowl coming up, I wanted to touch on a big topic that came to light after the NFL end of regular season carousel of head coach firings and hirings. Out of the 32 teams in the NFL this season, only 3 of the head coaches were non-white. In a league that was over 70% non-white in 2019, this indicates that there are serious issues with the league giving opportunities to people of color. As a side note, when I say non-white or minority coaches I want to specify that this issue is almost entirely an issue that effects Black players and coaches.

In 2002, two black head coaches were fired after the season, Tony Dungy and Dennis Green. In Tony Dungy’s last season he finished with a winning record and lead his team to the playoffs, while Dennis Green finished with his first losing season in his 10 year tenure before getting fired. In 2003 the Rooney Rule was implemented by the NFL that stated that at least one minority candidate must be interviewed for every head coaching position (and as of 2009, front office positions as well). At first, the Rooney Rule appeared to work with an increase in non-white NFL head coaches peaking in 2011 with 10 minority head coaches.

Unfortunately, there were only 3 non-white head coaches during 2019, and after the dust settled after the 2019 regular season, there will most likely again be only 3 non-white coaches in 2020. Below is a chart showing all of the head coaches in the NFL with the dark blue dots representing minority head coaches and gray dots representing white coaches. Read further for a breakdown on some of the chart elements below.

Visualization Items

One of my favorite things to do with a viz is to incorporate a theme using color throughout the viz representing some main theme throughout the story. In this visualization, I used the navy blue color to represent non-white coaches throughout the viz. I did this in the text headers and in the chart elements themselves. This way, whether you’re reading a paragraph or looking at a bar chart, you know what the data is saying. This way you can also avoid using a typical legend, which is something I always try and avoid if possible.

Another way to create symmetry in your viz is to make sure that the chart elements are aligned in a similar fashion when doing comparisons. As you’ll note, every time I reference minority coaches in the viz, those elements are always placed above the white coaches. This allows for viewers to transition from one part of the viz to the other parts and still have an idea of what is going on.

When I asked Will Strouse for feedback on this viz, one of the first things he mentioned was that the reference line showing when the Rooney Rule was implemented jumped out at him immediately. This was such good news! That is exactly what I wanted to happen. The chart at the bottom is fairly straight forward but by using the reference line I essentially divided the chart into two parts, pre and post Rooney Rule. This allows views to do some analysis on their own regarding the effect of the rule even though I don’t mention that much in the viz itself.

In Tableau

This viz is not too complicated but I wanted to explain a couple of the chart elements and how I did them in Tableau.

To create the chart below I put Seasons to columns and then created a custom in line calc in rows.

INDEX() * ATTR(IF [Race] = “White” THEN -1 ELSE 1 END)

This places each of the coaches above or below the line because the Index() function ranks each of the coaches then multiples it by either 1 or -1.

The bar chart showing the discrepancy between player and coach demographics is one of my favorite alternatives to the standard bar chart. This chart just take two measures and using a dual axis shows the two separate values allowing you to see the difference. If you’re wondering what a workplace application of this might be, this chart type is good for seeing targets v actuals.

The Takeaway

Now you’re wondering, what do I do next? How does this visualization help anything? How does this apply to my every day life? Well, great questions. In every workplace I’ve ever worked, there’s been discussions about “diversity” and hiring the “best candidate for the job.” Unfortunately, all too often those two ideas are framed as being mutually exclusive, when in reality, they are not. In fact there are tons of articles and research that shows diverse teams often outperform homogeneous ones.

If you take away one thing from this visualization and topic of conversation it’s this; diversity is a competitive advantage, and if you’re not making an effort to have an inclusive group of candidates, you might not be getting the “best candidate for the job.”

Thanks so much for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed this post and the viz as well. My hopes is that this viz helps start more conversations about race, opportunity, and the obstacles that Black Americans face in 2020. Make sure to email me at spencer.baucke@gmail.com with your comments, feedback, or suggestions!

Huge thanks to Alex Dixon, Chantilly Jaggernauth, and Will Strouse for the feedback and helping me bring this topic to life!

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