BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The officials sprinted around the field keeping order, throwing flags and even telling the Miles College band to hush once.
It was a typical college football game Thursday night except that four of the seven people wearing the black-and-white stripes were women. ...
See the whole story here, courtesy of the Washington Post.
Kicking Back Comments: Stepping into a situation generally dominated by another group is hard. By all accounts these ladies did very well. It would be stunning to see a woman in the NFL. I think it would be good for the boys and certainly challenge their perspective.
There is one disadvantage that I see however ... particularly with football ...
I believe (truly) that it should be compulsory for a referee to have played the sport that they will now officiate. It does not have to be at the same level (in fact in many cases it likely can not be as there is nearly an equal time spent "making the pro's" as a referee as it is as a player) but at a level where a referee can develop a sense of specific empathy for a competing player.
For me it was easy. I played from age 5 on straight through to college ... and even after in far more limited circumstances. It help me develop a sense of empathy that I carried forward throughout my career.
My concern with the ladies in football is the same. Some may have certainly played full contact, and good on them for doing so. Some however may not have, and leaves open the possibility for a criticism of these referees that may be justified.
Please note, I believe this is true at the highest levels of the respective game, al la, MLS, NFL, NHL, NBA, and their respective farm teams.
I don't believe this is necessarily the case in some sports even at the collegiate level, and certainly not any level below that. Refereeing should not be reserved for "former players only."
But I do believe that former players have a slant as a referee that others do not, that helps them manage the highest level player better than those who do not have that experience.