February 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Western Conference guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (3) drives to the basket against Eastern Conference guard Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks (26) during the second quarter of the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier this month, Los Angeles Clippers player Chris Paul was fined $25,000 after criticizing a female referee’s calls during a game. According to USA Today, Paul said the calls were “ridiculous” and that “this might not be for her.”
Many people took the comments to be gender-based slurs, though Paul claimed his remarks had nothing to do with gender. The National Basketball Players’ Association also claimed that Paul meant no disrespect.
“I watched this game. I personally think she wasn’t doing a great job. If a man was calling the way she was, I believe he would have made the same comment,” said Chelsea Willis, a junior therapeutic recreation major and intramural official at The University of Southern Mississippi Payne Center.
“I believe that there is really no way to really know if he was being sexist or not unless he comes out and says it,” she said.
Nevertheless, according to a sports blog for the Washington Post, the NBA’s fine was not based on gender, and the blog said, “The league issued the standard fine associated with criticizing a referee in a public forum.”
Representatives of the Payne Center, Associate Director of Recreational Sports Thomas Deus, as well as senior international studies and economics double-major and Program Assistant Conner Miller, both agreed that the job of an official is a difficult one. The two agreed that the Payne Center staff is dedicated to standing behind its officials.
“They make the call. Their call is what we stick with,” Miller said. “We expect our participants to treat (officials) exactly the same whether they are a male or a female.”
When asked what would happen if a situation like Paul’s occurred during a Southern Miss intramural event, Willis said that her supervisers are quick to ensure equality and would take control of any situation.
Miller said a participant acting inappropriately would be ejected from the game and would have to undergo an extensive, yet fair, evaluation process before the suspension was removed. Deus said that if the evaluation revealed that it was a serious case of discrimination, further action would be taken.
“We would probably move it along to the university so that this was not just an intramural event, this was a university event where this participant who was being vulgar needs to be handled,” Deus said.
As a response to the Chris Paul incident, Deus said, “What I really hope it doesn’t do is deter females from trying to become an official.”
Deus and Miller both said that any student willing to help is welcome to train and apply. As Willis succinctly put it, “Gender should have nothing to do with anything.”