This Thursday, Chicks like us should relish the opportunity to hold our heads high. For the first time in NFL history, a woman will referee a preseason game. Her name is Shannon Eastin. And while female fans should be clinking their glasses of Pinot over the fact that this ridiculous glass ceiling has finally been broken, it’s just not that simple.
What you may not have heard is that NFL refs are pulling a page from their player brethren and staging a lockout. The labor fight has been going on since June. Since the regular refs have no intentions of crossing the picket line, the league is letting folks who have only served as referees for high school and even small college games get their shots in the big league. Folks like…Shannon Eastin.
While her opportunity is groundbreaking, it is also steeped in controversy since she’s hardly considered the most qualified of female referees. After all, there is Sarah Thomas, a woman we told you about a couple years back who officiated a college bowl game and a few Saints practices. Thomas refused to cross the picket line, so she won’t get her shot to make history. With that said, it would be unfair to poo-poo on Eastin’s opportunity. She shouldn’t be judged any more harshly than any of the other under-qualified refs who are stepping in because of the strike.
Eastin should be given an opportunity to prove herself. If she rocks it, then who cares how she got there? After all, I can’t imagine she’ll do any worse than the Hall of Fame game refs who could barely manage the coin-toss. The league is getting its fair share of criticism for putting Eastin at the center of its tug of war. Eastin is getting criticized for being a scab, but rising above all the drama. During a conference call with the media, Eastin downplayed the hype, saying:
“I want to encourage women: Don’t be afraid. Pursue and have dreams. This is my dream. With very step I hope to show it really doesn’t matter if you are male or female.”
You can catch Eastin in action Thursday when the Chargers host the Packers. While I could care less who wins the game, you’d better believe I’m “Team Eastin” all the way!