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The First Female GM In Sports Will Be A Quant

Will Andrea Mandrycky be the first female GM of a major sports franchise?
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“Ladies can do stuff now. You’re going to have to deal with it.”

As with most things in life, answers can be found in Anchorman, especially coming from the frightful visage of Danny Trejo.

The time has long since come that a female ascends to the role of General Manager for a team in either football, baseball, hockey, or basketball. This isn’t a ‘woke’ take or male feminism or trying to be edgy and progressive. It’s simply common sense.

To think that a female can’t run a sports team is an archaic idea. Judging talent, hiring people to fill roles in an organization, completing contracts, and making moves in free agency and trades is not an inherent male trait. It’s something that both men and women can do.

Women watch sports. Not just for the uniforms, not just for the hot players. They genuinely like the sport they are watching. So as a matter of representation, females should also be in the management of these sports.

This doesn’t mean it has to be 50%. Males still outnumber females in viewership and consumption of sports. So the angry males out there don’t have to worry about their sports havens being overrun by females. But a team that really wants to make a statement and reach a greater segment of their fanbase, would be well-served by promoting a qualified female to the GM role.

The problem is that there simply aren’t many female candidates within front offices, in any of the four major sports. The road for a female to reach the GM chair through the playing field, as an ex-player, would be difficult because of the baked-in biases. However, if that path was through the sector of analytics, where math is the common language, it may be the better angle.

The chasm from quant nerd to upper management has been crossed many times over already throughout sports, especially in hockey and baseball. Of the four major sports, I’d said that basketball and baseball are the leaders in analytics at the moment, with basketball rapidly catching up to baseball in some respects.

And while there aren’t many candidates in the quantitative analytics side of sports, there still are some very strong ones to highlight.

Perhaps the leading candidate in any of the sports to become a GM is Alexandra Mandrycky, now the director of hockey administration for the expansion Seattle franchise in the NHL. As one of the trio of co-creators of the seminal WAR On Ice website (along with Sam Ventura, currently in the Penguins analytics department), she and fellow WAR On Ice creator Andrew Thomas were jointly hired by the Minnesota Wild in January 2016. After Thomas’s contract was allowed to lapse last season without renewal, Mandrycky departed on her own accord in May 2019.

In light of the firing of the Wild’s GM, Paul Fenton, it was said that he greatly alienated large portions of the players and the front office alike. It isn’t hard to reason that both Thomas and Mandrycky left a tumultuous organization that didn’t adequately utilize their talents.

Seattle made the unusual move to scoop up Mandrycky, referred to frequently as a ‘rock star’ in NHL circles, nearly one month before they hired GM Ron Francis to run the show a couple of weeks ago. It has been reported that Mandrycky had quite a voice in determining the list of GM finalists and provided input on each to ownership.

Although there are plenty of GMs at this point that have been hired before the age of 30, it is still worth noting that Mandrycky is 28. Ron Francis, 56, still has plenty of potential years ahead of him, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Seattle attempt to come out of the gate hot with female fans by making Mandrycky a co-GM at some point in Francis’s tenure with the explicit statement that she will be the successor to him at the end of his tenure.

There are other quality candidates, such as Samantha Rack (25) with the Reds as an analytics developer. There’s also Namita Nandakumar (23) with the Philadelphia Eagles as a quantitative analyst, but who cut her teeth as a hockey stats specialist online at HockeyGraphs and The Athletic.

Naturally, there are plenty others that I’m either overlooking or just not aware of at this moment. But hopefully within the next seven years, one of these women (or another, of course) will be handed the reins of a professional sports franchise. It will be a momentous occasion and one that is long overdue.

Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

2 Comments on The First Female GM In Sports Will Be A Quant

  1. Why are there no females on the TPOP staff. Now that would be edgy and progressive

    • Kevin Creagh // August 6, 2019 at 9:06 AM // Reply

      We had a very good hockey writer, Leah Blasko, on staff for quite a while. I don’t go out and solicit looking for writers; writers approach us. If I were paying my writers a standard salary, then I would go out and actively solicit for writers. I would have any writer, male or female, as long as they use analytics to make their point.

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