NFL hires a female referee, making the referee lockout far more interesting
She's one of the replacement referees, a corps of college refs being brought in as a "screw you" move toward the regular referees who are trying to negotiate a new contract with the NFL. Replacement referees will work the preseason and regular season NFL games until the NFL and the regular refs can work out a long-term agreement.
You think that she'll never actually work an NFL game, because the league and the officials still have plenty of time to work out a deal? Think again. The first NFL preseason game is in five days.
Shannon "Don't Call Me Sheena" Eastin has officiated Division I college games in the Mid-East Athletic Conference, home of tiny schools like Coppin State and Bethune-Cookman. She actually has a better resume than many of her fellow replacement officials. Some of them are high school football referees.
The NBA has employed female referee Violet Palmer on the basketball court since 2006, but the NFL has never had a female official on-field. Cat Conti, pictured left, has worked Division I games and also publicly aspires to officiate in the NFL, though she has not been confirmed as a replacement official.
I don't know about you, but my world will come to complete halt when Ms. Eastin takes the field to officiate her first NFL preseason game. That's going to be historic, and we will tell our grandkids about it. I'd give anything to see her flag a player for unpaid child support.
That said, Ms. Eastin has not yet been assigned to work her first NFL preseason game. According to XTRA 910 Arizona Cardinals reporter Mike Jurecki, she's working a scrimmage game in Seattle this weekend and hasn't been informed of when she'll ref her first preseason game.
That will be a landmark event, but do realize the public relations scheme in which the NFL is engaging. The normal referees are not on strike -- they're being locked out, and not by choice. Hiring a female replacement official builds public sentiment in support of the replacement officials, and makes the regular officials look like the entitled bad guys.
That doesn't take anything away from Ms. Eastin's potential accomplishment, though. The fact is that she would still be the first female official to work an NFL game, and an inspiration to millions of women and girls because of it.
Then again, Ms. Eastin's breaking of the glass ceiling might just reinforce traditional gender barriers. As a replacement referee, she will be paid substantially less money than regular male referees -- while performing the exact same job.