(Photo courtesy of nightthree)
(Photo courtesy of nightthree)

BY ASHLEY SWORD, Staff Writer

A milestone was made in the NFL on opening weekend during the Detroit Lions season home-opener against the St. Louis Rams this past Sunday.

Shannon Eastin broke gender barriers as the first woman to officiate at the professional level. She got her chance as a replacement referee because the regular officials are currently locked out of a deal with the NFL. A new deal hasn’t yet been completed, so Eastin will get a chance to referee more games in the future.

Eastin has earned her stripes as she now enters season number 17 officiating games that include experience in NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) games.

We are living in the twenty-first century, where women have traveled into space and even ran for a Presidential nomination. We must progress forward not backward. I wholeheartedly agree that women should have an equal opportunity to hold their own on the field. With the knowledge of the game and officiating, I believe that women have the ability to not only stand beside the men in the NFL, but move themselves forward in the sports industry.

Today, women are viewed as strong, independent, and successful because of those who have worked for equality in the past. Eastin has demonstrated to women of all ages that anything is possible with determination and hard work. We stand on the sidelines reporting the game and actively play each sport that men play so we have the ability to acquire all of the same knowledge as them to progress in the industry. We have come a long way to break these gender barriers and on Sunday, during the Lions-Rams game, we did it once again.

Although Eastin is a replacement, the NFL shouldn’t stop with that game but continue to allow women who have the qualifications to officiate during the regular season.