NFL Hires First Black Female Game Official; Maia Chaka

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Riley Nanista, Writer

NFL Hires First Black Female Game Official; Maia Chaka

 

The NFL hired their first black female referee in history, Maia Chaka, on March 5, 2021. 

 

As a kid, Maia loved football.  She loved to watch it, to play it, and to read, write, and learn about it. She knew all of the rules and more about football than an average adult knows, when she was 5. She always dreamed of playing it, and then eventually being a referee for it. She played on her high school football team, and constantly got mistaken as a cheerleader, she would nod, and say she was, and then when she would run on the field in her pads with her teammates before game time. Then she would wave to that person and wink. She continued on to college to then later graduate and get her bachelor’s degree. She then went on to chase her dreams, and started working and training to be a football referee.  

 

Maia Chaka worked in the Pac – 12 for a while under supervision from current NFL referees who watched her to see if she was experienced and ready to move to the NFL. She had multiple tests to see if she was ready for the responsibility of a NFL referee. 

 

When Maia got the news that they were officially considering sending her to the NFL, she was at work. They told her at practice when she was in training and the other referees heard. They were all men. They immediately turned on her with jealousy. They started shouting out sexist terms and names to get her to back out, but little did they know, it would only make her stronger. 

 

Maia persisted and would not back down her entire life to follow her dream. “Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance — including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program — have earned her a position as an NFL official,” said Troy Vincent, who oversees the league’s football operations. 

 

In an interview, Maia was asked why this was such a big deal to our society today and she responded with a motivational speech that moved us all. 

 

“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Maia said. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”