Two female referees officiate NBA game for first time

Two female referees officiated the same NBA game for the first time in the league’s history on Monday.

NBA referees Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroeder were part of the officiating crew during Monday’s game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Orlando Magic.

The women were joined by Sean Wright in officiating the game at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.


Sago has served as an NBA official since 2018, and Schroeder since 2019. 

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford said before the game that “we all have a personal way to look” at the milestone game for the league, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“For me, I have four nieces and I have a goddaughter who I’m super close with and they’ll be watching,” Clifford said. 

“I’ve told them. I mean it’s not Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' Democrats' reconciliation bill breaks Biden's middle class tax pledge We have a presidential leadership crisis — and it's only going to get worse MORE being inaugurated as a vice president, but it’s a huge honor. And I think also, just being around NBA officiating and how difficult it is to break into the league, to be picked to be in the league. There’s obviously a huge number of people who want to be officials in our league, so there’s a lot of things that have to be done in order for anyone to be able to officiate at this level. It’s great for the league, but it’s great for the country,” he continued.

Schroeder’s father also served as a referee for 35 years, and she attended games alongside him as a child, Fox Sports reported.

Women first began officiating NBA games in 1997. Since then, there have only been seven full-time female referees to serve in the league.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in 2019 called for half of all new referees joining the league to be women.

"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. 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 said during an appearance for The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.