Football is widely considered to be a man’s sport. There are no professional women’s football leagues that are as recognized and esteemed as the NFL, but that doesn’t mean that women aren’t interested in the sport or capable of participating in it in some way.
Sarah Thomas, for example, has become the first and only female referee for the NFL. She began as a
referee for her high school’s football team, then went on to be the first female referee for major college
football games in 2007 before becoming a full-time referee for the NFL in 2015. Thomas also broke
records last year in 2019 when she became the first female official for the NFL postseason.
Despite the challenges that come with being a woman in a heavily male-dominated profession, Thomas has proven herself to be capable and confident in her work and on the field, and in interviews, shows her desire to keep growing in strength and resilience: necessary skills for NFL referees, especially for female
Other women have made their way into the league in different ways, taking on coaching roles or managerial and ownership roles. On September 27, 2020, the game between the Washington Football
Team and the Cleveland Browns was the first game in NFL history two have two female coaches and a female referee.
Callie Brownson is the chief-of-staff for the Browns and Jennifer King is the assistant coach for the Washington Football Team. King is also the first Black female full-time coach in the league. Thomas was the official in this game, and the three of them together in one game broke league history and hopefully set a precedent for future games to come.
Women like Kim Pegula, co-owner of the Buffalo Bills, Dee Haslam, co-owner of the Cleveland Browns,
and Martha Firestone Ford, owner of the Detroit Lions, have made strides in the NFL as well, taking an
interest in and funding the teams while running their own businesses. They’re proving that women can be in positions of power within business and know how to manage a football team. They’ve made a living for themselves as CEOs in their respective businesses alongside knowing what’s going on in the NFL and making the higher-up decisions for their teams.
While there’s certainly room to grow in terms of women in football, these women show that it’s not just men who can enjoy and participate in the sport. They have set an example for those after them and have made great strides in the walk toward equality.
Sources: NFL, CBS Sports, SportsCasting