Over the weekend, Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner became the first women to referee in an all-male professional sports league in the US.
NBA commissioner David Stern has been getting well-deserved pats on the back. As Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sport's Foundation, said, basketball has the best record of any professional sport in terms of minority hiring and women's participation.
But while he removed another barrier for women in sports, Mr. Stern's motivation, we'd like to think, wasn't to earn Brownie points. The new refs have a lot of officiating experience - 25 years between them. They've proven they're good. Though the NBA players generally are bigger than those in college and in the WNBA, and though the play is "a lot more above the rim," as Ms. Palmer says, everyone will adjust.
The attitudes of the players will make a big difference, and for the most part they've been pretty good. There are a few who say men should officiate men's games and women should officiate women's games. But we side with the players who maintain that it won't - or shouldn't - make any difference. The Detroit Pistons' Grant Hill said it well, and honestly: "I don't look at it as male or female. A striped shirt is a striped shirt."