Today in things that we didn’t know but which do not surprise us: No woman has ever officiated an NFL game. That’s about to change. Shannon Eastin, a referee for the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference, will fill that position. With sixteen years of officiating experience under her belt, we’d say she’s ready. She’d say so, too.
“There’s been a lot of talk that the NFL is wanting to bring in a female and, quite frankly, this could be the opportunity,” she said. “I felt it is something I needed to do, make that step and see what comes from there.”
The situation she is talking about is a complicated one: Eastin was brought in as a replacement by the league while the regular officials are locked out during a strike. Tensions are already (understandably) high in the NFL world, and Eastin acknowledges that she took this into account when she was thinking about taking the job:
“The pressure? I think knowing I am a female in a man’s world, I always put more pressure on myself. I know what I signed up for, and that what I do is magnified. Hopefully there is some understanding on their part I have got to do what’s in the best interest of myself, just as they have to do what is in their best interest.”
And though as a general rule we do not appreciate scabs, we do appreciate individual stories. And this one’s an interesting one.
“I believe I am ready. I’m a realistic person and I know what is realistic for me. I am not going to play football. I feel it is realistic for me to officiate. I make myself ready for any opportunity that comes my way. I will come in with my eyes wide open.”
Greenbay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson had this to say on the matter:
“It’s probably about time. I’m sure women have probably tried at some point along the way leading up to this point, so I would assume it’s somebody qualified out there that we won’t have to jump over for making bad calls. We look forward to it. That’s just the way things are and the way I think it should be. So hats off to her and whoever decided to make it happen.
There’s no denying that Eastin is in a very public position right now; a million eyes will be on her; for one reason, or for the other one. It’s yet another situation in which a woman is going to have to work very, very hard–harder than her male counterparts–to perform in such a way that proves to the naysayers that she deserves to be there.
“I want to encourage women: Don’t be afraid. Pursue and have dreams. This is my dream. With every step I hope to show it really doesn’t matter if you are male or female.”
We wish her luck.