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NFL’s Carl Johnson Says He Thinks Female Referees Will be Well-Received

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I still remember when the NBA hired Violet Palmer. It was a huge deal to me.

The NFL’s VP of officiating was interviewed for an ESPNW article on officiating:

Carl Johnson, the NFL’s head of officials, isn’t interested in publicly evaluating potential referees, but he did say that there are women who are currently under consideration, and that he expects he will be hiring one to officiate in the NFL.

In December, the NFL hosted an officiating clinic for about 40 players from the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team. And two women were included in a recent officiating clinic in New York City. The point isn’t just to get women, but to get people with a deep knowledge of the game. Drawing from both genders increases the talent pool.

“Our goal is to get the best people working this game,” Johnson said.

Compared with other sports, football doesn’t include a lot of debate between players and officials during a game. The NFL expects officials to be less about personality than about the game, and Johnson doesn’t foresee a problem if a woman were to wear the stripes.

“I think it’s going to be well-received, because we have a huge following among females,” Johnson said. “All the players want is someone who is going to call the game properly.”

That’s definitely the kind of attitude the NFL should have. I’m tired of the argument that women aren’t has heavily involved with football because it’s a sport they don’t play. Lots of NFL officials have ZERO football experience been watching and officiating. And now that we have the Lingerie Football League, which looks like fluff but is actually pretty hardcore, the women-don’t-play argument flies in the face of reality.

Of course, as a woman I dream of an NFL that incorporates more women across the board. From coaching staffs (YEAH I SAID IT) to color analysts. I hate that women are typically relegated to roles in football that don’t require or call for analysis. During broadcasts women are relegated to sideline reporting, and I’ve even heard men complain about that (when they’re not assessing whether or not they’d have sex with her).

And certainly, many of those women are happy to have their jobs cause reporting is their thing, and they’re just pleased to be a part of a big broadcast. But when will women be called on more often to analyze the sport the way the men do? Will a woman ever stand between Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico in the booth on Monday Night Football? I mean Tony Kornheiser admitted he didn’t know football and he still got a crack at it!

Having women officiate is a step toward a more inclusive game. I still remember when Violet Palmer was hired to officiate NBA games. I was so happy for her. And granted there hasn’t been the influx of female NBA officials I’d hoped there’d be (those positions are few and far between regardless of gender) it still remains an important step and one worthy of celebrating.

I agree with Johnson when he says that a woman referee will go over okay in the NFL-but that’s only because most NFL fans don’t understand the game well enough to know who’s a bad official and who isn’t. That’s why not much about officiating is ever discussed in the NFL beyond botched reviews. Hundreds of games later, message boards are still tough on Palmer, but NBA refs are far more visible than NFL refs. I’m sure that the home of sexism (sports message boards) will find plenty wrong with a female referee. I’m already seeing people talking about how the first time a female referee gets hit, she’ll cry (vomit) but from a broader perspective, there shouldn’t be too much whining.

The rest of the ESPNW article is also worth checking out.





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