While the commissioner of the NFL is frequently criticized by the sports media for not being progressive enough, the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, enjoys a sterling reputation for standing on the woke side of social justice issues. His recent declaration about a gender quota for both coaches and referees is sure to only help his progressive credentials.
At an event Thursday hosted by The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Silver touted his new "goal" for the league he helms: a 50-50 male to female hiring ratio for both coaches and referees.
Speaking about referees currently in the league, Silver lamented that the position has been "so male-dominated for so long." His new goal: that half of the new referees hired by the league will be women.
"It's an area, frankly, where I've acknowledged that I'm not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long," said Silver, in comments reported by the Associated Press. "Because it's an area of the game where physically, certainly, there's no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing."
Silver noted that the league almost pulled off his gender quota in the last round of hiring: two of the past five referees who moved up from the developmental G League were females. In total, that makes three female officials currently in the league.
But it's not just female referees he wants to add at an aggressive rate — it's female coaches, too.
"The goal is: going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league," he said, quickly adding: "Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There's no reason why women shouldn't be coaching men's basketball."
The two new female officials, Ashley Moyer-Gleich and Natalie Sago, were both promoted from the development league to full-time NBA referees in November, Bleacher Report notes. "They joined Lauren Holtkamp as the only women who are currently referees in the NBA, although Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner also officiated in the league."
AP reports that three teams have recently added female coaches to their staff. The first to add a full-time, paid female assistant coach in the NBA was the San Antonio Spurs, who hired former WNBA point guard Becky Hammon back in 2014. "As a 5-foot-6 point guard, decorated WNBA veteran Becky Hammon has never had the experience of shattering a backboard with a dunk," ESPN reported at the time. "She's busting through the glass ceiling instead."
In 2018, Hammon became the first female to interview for a head coaching job, which SB Nation portrayed at the time as something that was "exposing bias in NBA coaching hires." With the head coaching position recently opening up over at the L.A. Lakers, Hammon's names has come up over the last few days, but many analysts are warning her not to take it if offered due to the "dysfunction" over in Los Angeles.
The Washington Wizards also recently hired a female as an assistant coach, Kristi Toliver of the Washington Mystics, while the Indiana Pacers made history by naming a woman, Kelly Krauskopf, as assistant general manager, AP notes.