The newest trailblazer for women in sports, Sarah Thomas, will become the first female ref for the National Football League
Football has long been a man's world, but there will be at least one woman on the field come fall. The NFL just announced they've hired Sarah Thomas as the league's first full-time female official. But even though she's got XX chromosomes and three kids, don't think she's a pity hire. With nearly 20 years of professional experience with the game, Thomas is more than qualified to tackle the tough job. The step she's making toward gender equality is just a nice bonus. (Add her to the list: 17 Women in History Who Changed the Health and Fitness Game.)
Thomas says you can forget about the chest-pounding, manly-man stereotype of footballers. "When they hear my voice or see that I am wearing mascara they say, 'That's a girl,' but that's about it. They really don't care. They really just want you to do the job and be consistent and be good at it," she told Today.
Thomas will be working as a line judge, which, for football novices, is the referee responsible for making calls at the line of scrimmage (among other things).
While Thomas will be the first full-time female official in the NFL, she follows in the footsteps of a handful of other women making inroads into the sport. Shannon Eastin became the first woman to officiate at a NFL game when she reffed as a substitute during the 2013 lockout. Georgia Frontiere was the first female to own a NFL team when she became the majority owner and chairman of the St. Louis Rams in 1979. And Amy Trask became the first female NFL CEO as she headed the Oakland Raiders, until she left in 2013 to become an analyst for CBS Sports. And of course there's Erin Andrews, one of the first women to cover professional football and one of the most popular female sports reporters of all time. (28 Powerful Women Share Their Best Advice.)
But Thomas likely speaks for all the trailblazers when she says that her main goal wasn't to be the first female anything, but rather to make a career out of her love for the sport. "I am just out doing a job. I just do it because I love officiating," she told ESPN.
Women doing what they love, no matter the field—that's a trend we hope never goes out of style.