My fellow writer, Todd Toombs, lobbed one up for me earlier this week. But I’m going to add a tidbit that Todd didn’t mention. A woman, 42, in a first for the NFL, officiated a preseason game last week. There hasn’t been a lot of discussion, but as a woman myself, I thought it needed some attention.
I can relate to Shannon Eastin. Growing up I wanted to play football. It was a man’s sport, but I loved every single thing about it. Watching the Dallas Cowboys with my grandparents inspired me to learn the game as well. Ms. Eastin, however, took it a step further. Growing up she wasn’t allowed to play the game she loved, so she became a Judo champion instead. As an adult, she pursued her dream and got involved as the powers-that-be would let her. With 17 years experience in the high school ranks, the last four were in Division I-AA. In order for her to become an “official” NFL ref, she needs five years in Division I college football. At that point she could be given the same opportunity as the men.
In the preseason game between San Diego Chargers and the Green Bay Packers, Eastin worked as a line judge. I watched as player after player shook her hand or patted her on the back prior to kickoff. From where I sat, despite being a replacement, she held her own and did a fine job.
Football is a man’s sport and no women are allowed, right? I wholeheartedly disagree and would bet a Shiner Bock that I, and a number of women across the country, could hold their own in or around a football field. With the stage set, here are five reasons why Eastin, and any other member of the female persuasion, should be allowed to referee a NFL game, preseason or otherwise.
- If the woman is competent to do the job then she should have the same opportunities as her male counterparts.
- If she can handle the physical aspects, i.e. staying in shape, able to withstand a 350 lb lineman knocking her down, let her officiate.
- If actually having played the game is not a prerequisite, then allow women to ref NFL football.
- Women are doctors, lawyers, construction workers – why not NFL referees?
- This is the 21st Century.
As of earlier in the week, the labor dispute is still in the air. Not much has been resolved, and as it stands the replacements will continue to handle the ref duties. The NFL is prepared to allow these “inexperienced” refs to work the preseason games, and may in fact, handle the regular season games as well. That just opens up a new can of worms, but for now, you’ve got my support Ms. Eastin. She might just take on a Dallas Cowboy game in the near future.
For me, it is a bit of a different situation, It was an opportunity for me to get in and to show that I am capable. The NFL has been on the verge, and there has been a lot of talk about them wanting to bring in a female. Quite frankly, I thought this was the perfect opportunity, whether it is a trial or they see and think, ‘Wow, this can work.’ For me, I did give it some consideration, but I felt that it was something that I needed to do.
Cheers to you for having the courage to do what you want. And I, for one, hope to see you out on the field again, not as a scab, but as an official NFL referee.