Sarah Thomas breaks gender barrier to become the first female NFL referee

As the National Football League prepares for the 2015 season, an exciting announcement has resulted in a great day for sporting equality. After close to a decade of officiating at the collegiate level, Sarah Thomas has been hired by the NFL as an official.

In becoming the first woman to serve as official at the NFL level, it only adds to the growing momentum of women breaking barriers in football. Taking into account that this year, Dr. Jen Welter (a two-time gold medalist for the USA at the IFAF Women’s World Football Championships) became an assistant coach with the Texas Revolution, the accomplishment of Thomas makes 2015 a year to remember.

Congratulations to NFL commissioner Roger Goddell, who has shown great strides in helping make football more female friendly. From the implementation of a line of female-friendly football merchandise, to women serving as on-air personalities for the NFL Network, Goddell even invited Sam Gordon to attend the Super Bowl as his guest. With the league’s support of USA Football’s programs geared towards women in football, it marks the beginning of a golden age for women in football.

Thomas follows in the proud legacy of Violet Palmer, who became the first female referee in the history of the National Basketball Association back in the 1990s. As a side note, the 2014-15 NBA season saw Becky Hammonds become the first female member of a coaching staff, as she joined the San Antonio Spurs.

Perhaps one day, there shall be a female umpire in Major League Baseball, or a female official in the National Hockey League. For now, the appointment of Thomas as an NFL official makes her a gridiron hero in the noble effort for sporting equality.

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Author: markstaffieri

A proud supporter of women in sport. My influences in covering women's sport include Andria Hunter and Jaclyn Hawkins. Both are former women’s hockey players who created their own websites, providing a deeper insight for their respective sport. Unable to identify with multi-millionaire male athletes, the role of women in sport is one that provides inspiration while preserving the spirit of sportsmanship. My first exposure to women and sport came through Geraldine Heaney and her legendary goal at the 1990 Women's World Hockey Championships. By composing player profiles on women from all sports, it is my opportunity to give back to the female sporting community by showing gratitude for their hard work and effort. While women's hockey opened the door to a larger yet remarkable world of sport, the quantum leap in women's football and global growth of women's basketball have only helped to fuel my interest in the female game. Some of the athletes that I admire include Caroline Ouellette and Natalie Spooner (hockey), Lolo Jones (track), Connie Fekete and Sami Grisafe (football) plus Anne Erler and Heather Furr (LFL football). Other athletes consist of Sue Bird and Katie Smith (basketball) along with Barbara Mervin and Heather Moyse (rugby). In addition to my efforts on WordPress, I have also contributed to Bleacher Report, the Canadian Women's Hockey League, Hockey Canada, LFL Canada and Women's Hockey Life.

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