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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