On Thursday, August 9, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, history will be made at the Chargers-Packers game.
No, it won’t be the most cheese hats ever seen in one setting (although just thinking about that makes me hungry). It won’t be the longest line for the bathrooms EVER (although listen, those lines are brutal).
Instead, it comes in a 5-foot-5 package by someone who has probably worn makeup in her lifetime.
There’s a hint. I said HER.
For the first time in NFL history, a female will officiate the football game. Shannon Eastin, a 42-year-old former national judo champion, will be a line judge for the preseason opener.
Yesterday, in our office at Chargers Park, my colleague Michael Gehlken had Eastin’s league-wide conference call on speaker. Because I was working on a few other things, I sorta drifted in and out of listening. But, I did catch this:
“Knowing that I’m a female in a man’s world, I’ve always put the most pressure on myself. Pretty much everything I do is going to be magnified. I know what I signed up for,” Eastin explained. ”I have to be bigger, stronger, know that I understand the rules. I have to do things even better than the men that are working. And I’m ok with that.”
Yes! Yes! Yesssssssss!!!!!!
Whenever I speak to students about my job, some young girl will ask me what it’s like to be a woman working in sports. “What does it take?” she’ll ask.
I always answer the same way: You better be willing to work harder than the men, because you’re going to be scrutinized and judged and talked about SIMPLY BECAUSE you are a woman. It’s up to you to prove to the athletes/staff/world that you belong there, that you know what you’re talking about, that you aren’t just eye candy or there to fall in love with a football player or ask uninformed questions.
Because most athletes will think you are.
You will have done nothing to deserve this, except have breasts and curves and maybe some fingernail polish (bright pink, in my case).
It’s just the way it is, baby.
And that’s okay. Cuz you know what? It feels really damn good when you get it right. Sometimes, you get it wrong (I speak from experience) … but often, you’ll get it right because you work your butt off, and you might even scoop the male reporter next to you, who is complacent and lazy and just there for the free soda in the communal fridge. (Not all male reporters are like that. Not even most. But some.)
So get it, women. Go kill it. Put in the extra work, put in the extra time, let them all know that you should be standing in that locker room or on that sideline or in that coach’s office.
Do it in heels while you’re at it.