History changed when the first Black official was hired by the NFL in 1965, forty-five years after the NFL began. But today, we see another mark in history.
The first Black official hired by the NFL was a male; Burl Toler. But after 55 years, we see a drastic change in the system. Maia Chaka, the first Black woman to be hired by the NFL has changed the narrative in football. Chaka has stepped into a position that will hopefully speak to, and inspire, other women with dreams outside of the stereotypical careers set out for women that they too, can do it.
Sports, throughout society, have mostly been influenced and categorized by social divisions such as race, gender, and even religion. Sports such as football, which has always been a masculine, male dominant sport, has left little room for women aspiring to get a part of the business, even behind the scenes. Football, specifically the NFL, is a very lucrative business. An average NFL official makes six figures annually, making it an appealing career pursuit.
Female athletes have always made significantly less than male athletes in the professional world of sports. But the NFL is a billion dollar business, with NFL players averaging around $600,000 annually on the lower spectrum. The average WNBA player makes around $120,000 a year, and that’s on the high spectrum, as this kind of wage is usually capped even for top tier players.
All to say, this kind of situation is one women have been waiting for a long time, even if not in the capacity of football. We are waiting for the space for women who are strong in their field to be valued as such, and offered a wage worth their time and not influenced by their reproductive system.