NCAA tournament teams, which often have high-profile players in their starting lineups, can often be viewed as being overwhelmingly male.
And female referees can be viewed even more positively than male ones.
But, as a sports journalist who covers female athletes, I’m more interested in understanding the dynamics of male and female referees.
In the NBA, female referees, particularly in the early years of the league, have been at the forefront of efforts to improve officiating.
I spoke with the first female NBA referee in a decade, Becky Hammon, who spent three years as the NBA’s refereeing chief before leaving to become a referee with the US Women’s National Team.
When I asked her if she saw the gender divide in the NBA as being more or less in line with the NFL, she told me that the female referees who worked the NBA were treated like top-level officials, and that male officials were viewed as less important.
“It was more about what the players wanted and what they were looking for and what the fans wanted, and if they weren’t getting that, it was the male officials who were going to make the decisions,” she said.
I asked Hammon what she thought the most important things for female referees were when she was in charge of the NBA.
She told me she saw two of them, “being the eyes of the game” and being “the face of the sport.”
And, as for the other, she said, “the people who really want to see something done, who are the ones who can see a difference, who see the difference.”
While the gender disparity in officiating in the NFL is not as extreme as that in the NCAA, there is an underlying gender bias that can make the officiating process difficult for female refs.
I asked Hamon if the referees in the league were given a clear line in front of them.
“They don’t have one,” she responded.
“There is a gender divide on the field,” she added.
“There’s a gender division on the sidelines.
There’s a group of people who are not in line, and those people don’t get called, and the refs are going to be the ones that are going out there.”
A female referee’s role can be a lot like that of a male one.
When a female referee calls a play, she’s often a role model for the players on the sideline, and she may be the first to approach the ref when he approaches them.
A female referee also can be the only person to challenge a ref for a foul call, and, because of her gender, she is often the first one to report that a foul has been called.
“I know the guy who’s been fouled, and I know him to the best of my ability,” Hammon said.
“And I know that he didn’t call it.
So I call it, and he says, ‘Oh yeah, that was a foul.'”
When a female ref calls a foul, she can be seen as a mentor to the ref and an example for the team.
“When you have a female person on the ground, she makes sure the ref knows that she’s there,” she explained.
“She makes sure that they are doing their job.”
But the reality is, the NFL refs aren’t always the first ones to call a play.
And because the NFL has a gender split, there’s a disparity between how the ref will see a play and how the players will see it.
And, while some of these differences are very subtle, it’s not uncommon for male referees to make mistakes.
“For me, it takes a lot of patience to get the call right,” Hamon said.
“The male referees have to be really patient to be able to call the call and make sure it’s right,” she continued.
“You don’t want them to make too many mistakes.
I want to get my calls right.”
One of the ways that female ref-s are able to get their calls right is through a lot more than just their hands.
The refs have to see the plays unfold from the sidelines, and they have to know when to take the call.
This is especially true for male refs who don’t know exactly what the play is or how the play should be called, or even how to react to a certain situation.
“The guys are trying to get it right, but they’re not really able to see what’s happening,” Hamman said.
That is why, when a female official makes a call, she may feel more comfortable speaking with the ref than if the ref were male.
But, even if the female referee is not comfortable speaking to the player, she will want to speak to the officials, too.
The officials, as well as the ref, will give the player the benefit of the doubt.
And that’s something that is a huge benefit for the male referee.
“He’ll be the one who