Did you know that women make up approximately half of the NFL’s fan base? Watch out guys, the next thing you know, they’ll be females on the field.
Actually, a female has taken the field during a NFL game. Ok, so not in the form of a player (yet), but as a ref and her name is Sarah Thomas.
You might have heard Sarah Thomas’ name back in January during the Patriots-Chargers playoff game when she became the first female to officiate a NFL playoff game. There was a lot of fanfare in the days leading up to and after that game, and rightfully so. I mean, Thomas made history. But here’s the thing. What many may not realize, myself included until just recently (I’m sorry to have to admit), is that Sarah Thomas was not just the first female to take the field as a ref in a playoff game, but she was the first female ref to ever be hired by the NFL. When did that happen you might be asking. Well, that happened all the way back in 2015. Yes, 2015. The September 13, 2015 Kansas City-Houston game, to be specific. And here’s the other thing, before she tackled (pun intended) the NFL, she tackled the college football universe by becoming the first female to officiate a major college game (2007) as well as the first female to officiate a bowl game and the first female to officiate a game in a Big Ten stadium.
“Go and do things, whether you’re female or male, black or white, just do it because you believe in yourself and you know you’re there to do the job.”Sarah Thomas
Working her way to the NFL was not an easy task. In fact, Thomas was forced to wear her hair in a pony tail when officiating one of her first collegiate-level conference in order to not stick out on the field. Frustrated, she went along, but drew the line at no makeup. Not wanting to stand out and call extra attention to yourself make sense, but completely changing yourself to fit into a boy’s club? Now, that defeats the purpose. So yes, not only did Sarah Thomas make history more than once, she did so while staying true to herself.