NFL official, Sarah Thomas, makes history being first female referee to officiate in NFL

Just a few weeks ago on Feb. 7, millions of people nation- wide watched the first female referee to officiate the Super Bowl game.The woman is Sarah Thomas.This made history for the NFL and women in the industry. Thomas also was the first woman to officiate on the college level. She continues to make history in the field and inspires women in the industry and sports across the nation.

In 2015,Thomas was the first woman to be hired full-time NFL official.Then in 2019, she became the first female on-field official in playoff history. She continues to break gender roles in sports and shows women everywhere to fight for what they want.

Cassandra Seth, head coach for the women’s basketball team at WLU, says, “We’ve come a long way since Title IX, but just like with any disparity, the more it is recognized, talked about and understood, the more change occurs… we have to see it as ‘acceptance’ and the more it becomes the societal norm.”Women have had to fight to be seen as equals when it comes to women in sports.Women are not as often seen as coaches or officials in men’s sports, like men are seen in women’s sports.

Seth says,“Respect is earned, and I think as a society we are on our way to more accep- tance and normalizing females as ‘athletes’ not ‘female athletes.’” Seth added,“My job as a female in a leadership position is to show up for our athletes every day and em- power them to have the courage and confidence to succeed while setting an example of what that looks like.”Women like Seth and Thomas are being the example for women everywhere: women deserve just as much respect and equality as any other person in sports.

Also making history alongside Thomas, is Lori Locust and Maral Javidifar, both women coaching staff for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to The New York Times, “Before 2015, the N.F.L. had never had a female coach. But this season there were eight, by far the most ever.”The article goes on to say,“Advocates of women in sports are cautious- ly optimistic that the number of women coaching in the N.F.L. will continue to grow.”

Lindsay Humble is a third- year student at WLU and is on the women’s basketball team. Humble says that she was happy to hear when these women were making history in sports but can also re- late to the gender barriers women face in sports. Humble says,“I have [experienced] that I don’t receive the respect as a man playing colle- giate basketball does.”

Humble went on to say, “On a daily basis I have to prove my abilities to men, especially those who do not participate in collegiate sports and think they could beat me in competition or invalidate the difficulty of playing my sport at the collegiate level since it is women’s basketball.”

Women at all levels in sports are continuing to break gender-barriers and prove that men and women can be seen as equals. These three women- Thomas, Locust, and Javidifar prove to girls and young women everywhere that they deserve to be seen equally and have the same chances as men do, but especially in sports.

For more information or ques- tions about this article, email Lizzy Griffith at [email protected] edu.