On Monday, January 25, 2021, History was made. Two women referees were called to ref the same game at the same time. Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroder were only two of three officiating the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic game. Why is this a big deal, you might ask?
Considering this is the first time EVER to happen, it is refreshing to see more female representation in the sports industry and basketball. Although the shift in conversation is happening, it comes with mass criticism.
Who are Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroder?
Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroder are referees for the National Basketball Association. Natalie Sago began her career full-time in 2018. Jenna Schroder began her career in 2019 as a professional but has had seven years of prior officiating experience with large conferences such as ACC and Big East.
Criticism within the Industry
Let’s face it, women in sports don’t typically get the recognition they deserve.
When news broke about two women officiating the same game, people on Twitter were quick to criticize, stating startling and sexist remarks such as “That’ll be awful. Females don’t belong in sports”, “I don’t understand why the NBA is trying to push this female agenda,” and “yuck. Gross”. As you can see, these comments are extremely hurtful, misogynistic, and disrespectful.
It is unfortunate to see Sago and Schroder express their gratitude for making History and a difference for women wanting to pursue sports, being bashed for something they’ve been dreaming for. In an interview with ESPN Schroder states “This is a big deal. It’s like my feminist dreams come true, that like my personal values are colliding with my professional values and it’s awesome.”
Other criticisms include the presence of women in sporting games being extremely underwhelming. According to Business Insider, “This is the very first year that the WNBA has been included in “NBA 2K”. It’s safe to say this should not have gone on for years. Although this is a step in the right direction, it is not ok for WNBA members to be counted out, seeing as they are just as much a part of the Basketball Association as males. Players such as Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are big advocates for women in sports. They use their platform to uplift, congratulate, and promote female athletes, especially when it comes to basketball.
The Future of Women in Sports?
It is pertinent to understand that sports do not revolve around males even though they receive more acknowledgment and make up most of the sports industry. I believe women will receive more recognition moving forward, but due to Covid-19, it isn’t easy to keep track of constantly changing things. If you identify as a woman, remember every day is an opportunity for you to make your mark in the world of sports. If you or someone you know would like to make a difference within the industry, visit The Women’s Sports Foundation on how to pledge or tell your story.