Another glass ceiling has been shattered. The National Football League announced late last week that it had hired its first female football official. Her name is Sarah Thomas, and she is one of eight new hires by the league. Thomas, who played basketball in college at the University of Mobile, is quoted as having told the NFL Network in 2014:
I set out to do this and get involved in officiating not having any idea that there were not any females officiating football. Being a former basketball player, you saw female officiating all the time. So, no, I don’t feel like a pioneer.
The league has acknowledged that four of the new hires will be considered “floaters,” meaning they will not be assigned to any specific crew, but would not confirm whether Thomas is among them. Thomas has experience at refereeing, having worked a preseason game last year.
Technically, Thomas is not the first woman to officiate an NFL game. That distinction belongs to Shannon Eastin, who headed up the crew in a game in 2012, when the NFL locked out its officials.
Needless to say, the news of Thomas’s hiring brought out the jokesters riffing on female stereotypes. One comedian predicted that Thomas would throw a penalty flag and, when asked by a player or coach what the infraction was, would say, “If you don’t know what you did wrong, I’m not going to tell you.”
As for me, I have no problems with a female ref. If she can do a better job than many of the current clowns the NFL has in its employ, I say more power to her. Now if only the NFL could get around to desegregating the sport racially by hiring more white players regardless of talent, we’d really be making progress.
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