Shannon Eastin made history last night as the first woman referee to preside over the field in NFL history. Why did it take so long for Eastin (or any woman) to put on that striped shirt? Although she has 16 years of officiating experience and referees in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision, Eastin was only called on as a replacement thanks to an ongoing NFL lockout over a collective bargaining agreement. If not for the lockout, there's a chance that another female Division 1 referee, Sarah Thomas, could've been a pioneer instead.
Eastin's performance garnered positive reviews, and thank god for that, because apparently, if she failed, a ton of people would've used her as an excuse to claim that women have no place in the NFL. "Many women want to see a sister succeed in a pioneering role," ESPN's Jane McManus wrote before the game. "But we are also aware that if she fails, because of a lack of training and support, it will make it harder for the next woman to come along."
Eesh. Way to put pressure on a woman. It's also kind of a bummer that it took a lockout for such a monumental event to happen — and that some people are pissed Eastin's getting all the accolades.
"I'm all in favor of women officials, just not this one," Mike Pereira, former Vice President of Officiating for the NFL, wrote at Fox Sports. "It is an absolute shame that Eastin will be identified as the first female official to work an NFL game. If I were her, I would step aside and leave this huge milestone to Thomas, who truly deserves to be the trailblazer."
Does it really matter? What about having — gasp — two female NFL referees?
Shannon Eastin First Woman to Ref NFL Game [Hello Ladies]