By Ken Reed

While speaking at an event in Washington DC, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he’d like to see half of all new referees be women. He also said he’d like to see more women hired as coaches in the NBA.

“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,” Silver said of officiating.

“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.

“Same for coaches by the way. … There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

Silver is the most progressive and enlightened commissioner of any major American professional sports league.

What he said in DC makes perfect sense. Do men have any physical or mental advantage that would prevent women from being referees or coaches? Of course not. Women have already proven that they can officiate the NBA game effectively. San Antonio’s assistant coach, Becky Hammon, has drawn heaps of praise for her basketball acumen and coaching abilities from Gregg Popovich, one of the best coaches in league history.

Does anyone think that Tennessee’s legendary women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt, couldn’t have been successful coaching men?

Players respect coaches — male or female — that can help make them better — and who can make their teams better.

Bottom line: Gender shouldn’t be a prerequisite for these jobs.

Adam Silver is trying to lead the NBA out of the Stone Age. Other pro sports commissioners (as well as NCAA executives) should follow suit.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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