Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Violet Palmer: The First Female All-Star NBA Referee

Violet Palmer left, Evan Turner complaining right
  Palmer, born in Compton, California has been officiating NBA games since 1997.  Seventeen years later she found herself at the 2014 NBA All-Star game, busting down yet another barrier for women.  At one point Palmer believed reaching the NBA was unattainable.  Satisfied with her current role at the time as a top officiator of women's college basketball, Palmer wasn't looking to make the leap, but the NBA was looking at her.  With little room in the NBA's active referee pool (62), she thought her initial phone call in 1995 from NBA Assistant Director of Officiating Adam Wade was a prank call from a friend of hers.  After two years of the NBA evaluating her in NBA Summer League games and other non regular season games, she was hired. Her first regular season action came quickly, refereeing the opening game of the season between the Dallas Mavericks and Vancouver Grizzlies.

Early in her NBA career there was some lumps that Palmer had to endure, but nothing she didn't expect. She understood the nature of what she was doing and how people were going to react.  Many women before her have dealt with the backlash and outcry against their ability to hold high level professional jobs.  There were definitely questions she would have to answer, such as could she handle the NBA temper tantrums that some players throw, or would she be able to break up a fight on the court. 

Palmer sited hearing worse words come her way in the streets of  her hometown as having help prepare her for those NBA level fits. Pressure was not lacking for Palmer, as the first female in her position she had to prove she belonged on the court as a referee in the brightest lights.  One of the many great qualities that drew the NBA to Palmer was her work ethic.  It showed, and her effort culminated when she officiated her first NBA Playoffs featuring the Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets on April 25, 2006.

Despite reaching such a high level of success Palmer acknowledges that the question of whether woman is capable of such a job still dwells in the back of peoples minds.  This doesn't worry her, in fact she is proud of being able to prove her detractors wrong every night she takes court.


Cole Miller, from Haddonfield, NJ, is currently a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel. Over the summer, Cole volunteered for the 43rd SABR convention, a large convention with many speakers and other events for baseball fans who enjoy the new age statistics being brought to baseball such as WAR (wins above replacement ).   Cole is a huge fan of baseball, specifically the Phillies.

You can connect on Cole on LinkedIn here. 

1 comment:

  1. I love to play football, though I like to watch tennis more. Elena Dementieva is my favorite, though she is yet to win a fantastic Slam, but she has reached the finals from the US Open and French.