About 20 years ago, an attorney named Kitty Grubb saw an advertisement in her local paper that said the basketball referees’ association in Pinellas County, Florida, was looking for officials. Grubb, 65 years old, had first hoped to become a referee in 1977, having played basketball in high school and college. By the time she saw the advertisement, she had a successful career as a lawyer and extra time on her hands.
Grubb’s officiating career would eventually span about two decades and three sports: basketball, rowing, and football. Early on, she began reading the Florida High School Athletic Association Officials Guidebook. On page two, one guideline reads: “Officials shall … dress neatly and appropriately.”
There was one problem with that: The FHSAA’s official supplier, Gerry Davis Sports, didn’t provide much clothing in women’s sizes. Grubb tried to have her referee clothing tailored to fit, but it can cost a lot of money to try to adjust men’s clothing to fit a woman’s body, and even with tailoring, she told me, her clothes looked “less than ideal.”
This went on until last year, when Grubb—who is now a scoreboard and clock operator for football games—decided to complain. She had made a name for herself as a top arbitration and mediation attorney in Alabama and Tennessee, taking on high-profile gender-discrimination cases. Now, she began to see the uniform issue as another example of gender discrimination. Grubb emailed the FHSAA in June 2017 to complain: “Your female officials, myself included, grow weary of looking baggy, saggy in ill-fitting men’s apparel.”