This month, two basketball referees made sports history.
Danielle Scott and Angelica Suffren became the first two black women to referee an NBA game, making for an intersectional feminist win.
Marc J. Spears, a senior writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated, noticed the women during the July 3 summer league game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.
It comes more than two decades after one of the first barriers in women’s refereeing was broken.
In 1997, Violet Palmer shattered the glass ceiling by becoming the league’s first woman referee. On October 31 of the same year, she became the first woman to officiate an NBA game, a match between the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks.
Women have been quietly breaking barriers in the league for years, and this type of representation is needed now more than ever.
As women demand equality in all athletic roles — pay, leadership opportunities, and respect — it’s imperative that women are represented in all levels of sport professions, including sports management, sports journalism, and game officiating.
As we continue telling girls and women that they can indeed do anything, seeing two black women in a predominantly male league and industry sends an important message:
When women are given the chance, they can — and will — excel.