An announcement made this week says no more pink for NRL referees. This season they'll only be wearing red or blue. The reasoning behind this, or so the NRL has said, is because they'll look more authoritative - fans and players will take refs more seriously
On the face of it, it seems almost reasonable. But I had a really good look at that statement, and then facepalmed so hard I have fingerprints on my forehead.
See, I had foolishly thought that the main reason behind cladding the referees in pink was so they were easily visible and didn't clash with any of the playing strips.
But no. Apparently there is psychology around this. And it's the dodgy evolutionary kind that just tends to reinforce bias
Really, the question does have to be asked: Why is a referee in blue or red any more authoritative than one wearing pink? Is is it possibly, just maybe, because pink is "for girls"? (Spoilers: Yes, it is.*)
So are NRL players and fans unwilling to accept rulings from a guy wearing a feminine colour, or do the head honchos of the NRL just believe that players and fans don't respect pink? Because if it's the former, that's pretty sexist, and if it's the latter, then that's both sexist and really patronising. I suspect theres also some homophobia in the mix.
I'll just be clear on this - deciding to make the referees' uniforms not pink is not the problem. The NRL can kit their refs out in whatever they like and keeps the sponsors happy.
The problem is the reasons given for the change.
The NRL has a long and dismal history of completely failing to respect women, and this just seems like more of the same.
If referees make good, consistent calls, no one will care what they're wearing. And no referee is ever going to be able to keep everyone happy - that's pretty much in the job description.
Frankly, I suggest anyone who struggles to accept the authority of a person wearing pink - man or woman - should grow up and get over it
*Historical note: "Pink for girls, blue for boys" has only become de riguer since the 1950's. Previously pink was considered a bold and manly colour.