It’s not that common to have female referees in the world of sports. Even in more female dominated sports, this planet is not used to seeing women officiating games and matches. There is no justification for that nor is there a good reason for generally picking men to do this job. That is just the way it has always been for so many years now.
But things are starting to change and female participation is growing in several sports’ occupations and jobs that have been more traditionally linked with men. Football is one sport, which is slowly – yet pointedly – contributing to this change. And at the forefront of change there is the XFL, which today has six female referees in its list, which proportionately is more than any other professional sports league across the US.
Women as referees
Everybody knows that the role of referees in football is in fact very critical. They are responsible for ensuring that the game is played effectively according to the rules and they are often burdened with decisions that may influence the entire score of any given match. This is known to all fans and football bettors around the world, regardless if they are wagering on bookmakers in the US or betting sites in Switzerland. Referees can influence the outcome of the game!
Having women as referees is not peculiar. In some other sports, female participation is growing too and we get to see females as officials more and more often lately.
Officiating a game does not require any particular male-involved strength or skill, which can’t be replicated by women. Just as women are taking on sports, they are taking on sports’ officials’ positions too. Women can do this job as good, as effectively and as professionally as men and this is starting to be really obvious.
The XFL and women referees
The XFL is pioneering in US sports as it is the football league with the highest proportion of females in its officials. They are an inclusive league and they actively support female participation, coming ahead of the NFL and other leagues and showing the way towards diversity.
The XFL wants to show to the world that they are a serious league that does not only consider their footprint on the sports, but their footprint on the society at large.
Including 6 females in its 42 officials, it is the league with a penetration of nearly 15% of women in the relevant positions. And it is the league making a statement with one female official in all six officiating crews!
For 2023 season the six women were:
* Krystle Appelaniz: she has the longest experience in officiating football games and she is in the NFL Mackie Development Program
* Catherine Conti: Conti is the first woman to have officiated the Big 12 conference and she is considered to be one of the best football referees
* Amanda Sauer: she has experience as an official in the Alliance of American Football and she has been the first female to officiate a Big 10 game
* Monique Washington: Washington was a member of the all female officials for the 2023 Hula Bowl and she was -alongside Henrietta Powell – the fist women to be part of the crew at MEAC
* LaShell Nelson: she has been in the NFL’s officiating development program and she has gained a lot of experience since 2020. Nelson is the first black female official for the Big 10 conference
* Karina Tovar: she was the first ever on-field female official hired by the ACC back in 2021
The XFL is really making a difference in football, when it comes to promoting women, supporting their full participation and giving opportunities to more and more females to shine in the world of sports’ officials.
The XFL is making a statement and showing the road that other leagues need to follow as well, if we want to speak about inclusive organizations. Female officials and referees are on the rise and in fact they should be on the rise, because they have turned out to be exceptionally good!
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