NFL is making history, hiring Sarah Thomas as first female game official


The National Football League (NFL) will hire its first female game official with the hiring of Sarah Thomas.

The first female to ever officiate an NCAA Football game is ready to make history again, with the NFL expected to name Sarah Thomas as the league’s first even female game official. After previously making appearances in preseason and training camp games, Thomas is officially join a fraternity that has been all male until this point, according to Aaron Wilson of Fox Sports.

Thomas has been working with the NFL’s development program for officials for the past few seasons, and was thought to be on the cusp of gaining a role in 2014. Already in the officiating pipeline, according to NFL Director of Officiating Dean Blandino, Thomas needed just one more season in order to get up to the game speed of the NFL.

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"“It’s similar from when a players jumps from college to the NFL,” Blandino said. “Getting used to that type of speed is important.”"

For her part, Sarah Thomas isn’t too concerned with the change of speeds and feels she can get up to the task, as she told CBS Sports prior to the 2014 season.

"“The game has a tendency to slow down the most snaps you get and repetition. So, hopefully, the more snaps I get, things will start slowing down a little bit.”"

Of course, Sarah Thomas isn’t the first female offical in professional sports. In fact, she’s not the first to even step on the NFL field either, as that honor goes to Shannon Eastin, who served as a replacement official during the 2012 strike. Eastin worked two games that season, a preseason match-up between the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers on August 9, 2012, and her only regular season game on on September 9, 2012, a match-up between the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams.

The NBA had the barrier broken in 2007 when Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner were hired as the league’s first female refs, with Palmer actually making history when she refereed her first game on October 31, 1997. Major League Baseball has never had a female umpire during the regular season, although women have worked Spring Training games. Likewise, the National Hockey League has never had a female referee.

So while it is a small step, the appointment of Sarah Thomas to a very male environment like the NFL is a big step forward toward gender equality in sports, whether Sarah Thomas meant to be the one to take that first step or not.

(h/t CBS Sports)

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