The league recently announced the promotion of Simone Jelks to full-time official status for the 2020-21 season. She is currently the fifth female NBA referee this season after her promotion last week.
According to the league’s official announcement, Jelks “has officiated three seasons in the NBA G League. She also worked 16 regular-season NBA games as a non-staff official during the 2019-20 season.”
Jelks, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, has joined a select group of female NBA referees which includes Ashley Moyer-Gleich, Natalie Sago, Jenna Schroeder, Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling.
With her promotion, Jelks became the seventh full-time female NBA referee in league history, with Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer as pioneers when the league hired them in 1997. Palmer retired after 18 seasons while Kantner was fired in 2002.
Commissioner Adam Silver wants more female NBA referees
Back in 2019, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the need for more diversity among its officials. According to the New York Times’ Sopan Deb, which covered Silver’s speech during an appearance for The Economic Club of Washington D.C., Silver recognized the huge discrepancy between the number of male referees and female referees and is determined to do something about it.
"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. "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 was also aiming for a particular ratio of male to female NBA referees.
"The goal is: Going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league," Silver added. "Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There's no reason why women shouldn't be coaching men's basketball."Published 02 Jan 2021, 08:36 IST