NBA leads arbitration inclusion in the United States

Within the major professional men’s professional leagues in the United States, the NBA is the one that, to date, has the most female referees among its refereeing body.

In the current season of the most important men’s basketball league in the world, there are six women who act as starters to officiate games.

Of the 72 full-time referees who have acted in the 2021-22 NBA season, half a dozen are women, that is, 8.3 percent of the total.

They are Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling, Ashley Moyer-Gleich, Simone Gelcks, natalie sago, Jenna Schroeder and the newly promoted Danielle Scott.

Sago, who is in her fourth season, is the one who has officiated the most games, with 47, seventh place among all referees in the NBA, currently.

The pioneer among the best basketball referees in the world was violet palmerwho in 1977, at the age of 33, was the first official woman in an NBA game.

In fact, Violet Palmer has the honor of being the first female referee in any of the major men’s professional leagues and she stayed on the job until 2016.


According to data from NFL Operations, in the 2021 season there were 120 referees who worked in the league, of which only two were women: sarah thomasin his seventh year, and Maia Chaká, who made his debut. In other words, 1.6 percent of the workforce are women.

And it was precisely Sarah Thomas in 2015 who was the first woman to become a regular official within an NFL refereeing body. Before, she had already pioneered NCAA college football.

The number 53-wearing referee broke another major barrier in 2021, when she was the first to serve on the Super Bowl LV refereeing pool.


Never has a woman umpire been able to direct or umpire an official season game in the Major Leagues, only a handful of exhibition games, followed by tricks to banish the daring pioneers.

None of the 96 umpires eligible to umpire last MLB season were women, none, that is, zero percent and zero in history, and it’s not like there haven’t been female umpires capable of doing the job.

From Bernice Gerawho with excellent grades was rejected by the league NAPBL for not meeting the physical regulations required to be at least 1.78 meters tall and weigh 77 kilos or more. After suing that league and winning the trial, he managed to work in Class A in 1972, but resigned after not feeling support from his male colleagues.

then came Christine Wrenwho also worked in the Minor Leagues in 1975, but, above all, Pam Postema, who after being the first woman to officiate a match between MLB teams in a spring exhibition in 1988, saw her opportunities disappear and her contract after 13 years in AAA was canceled with the death of Commissioner Bart Giamatti. Something similar happened with Ria Cortesio, who in 2007 also worked in an unofficial exhibition match and then disappeared.


Although the 2021 MLS season only had one woman among the 29 central referees who participated in the tournament, recent history suggests a future of greater inclusion due to the quality that its group of assistant referees have shown, both in the league and in official Concacaf matches.

Was Tori Penso in 2020, the first woman to officiate an MLS match, after Sandy Hunt she had done it in 2000. Since then, Penso has continued to be active and was a center referee for five games the previous season.

But there are cases of Kathryn Nesbittwho was the first woman to work a hat-trick inside the MLS is Back tournament final in 2020. Nesbitt’s level is backed by her reputation which has seen her win the 2020 MLS Best Assistant Referee award .

And there’s more like Jennifer Garner and Brooke Maywho have FIFA badges like Penso and Nesbitt.

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NBA leads arbitration inclusion in the United States