There's no reason why a woman would be unable to officiate a game in any sport, but female referees have often been limited to officiating women's sports. Women's hoops, women's soccer, whatever.
Over the past several years, though, the sports world has slowly been catching up to the 21st century. In the National Basketball Association (NBA), female referees are commonplace. In the early years of Major League Soccer (around 2000), there were also female referees -- but it's been 17 years since the last time it happened.
In 2015, the NFL's first female referee took the field. Her name was Sarah Thomas.
Sarah Thomas is a native of Pascagoula and attended the University of Mobile. Sarah's career has involved a lot of firsts. In 2007, she was the first female to referee a college football game at the FBS level. Two years later, she was the first woman to referee a college bowl game. And on Sunday, another first. Sarah Thomas will officiate an NFL playoff game. That's a big assignment and one usually reserved for the top tier referees.
The only question is: why has it taken so long? In a great article at The Athletic (paywall), the NBA has moved ahead in hiring women after it developed its own scouting department for officials. Rather than relying on someone they knew already, or the recommendation of an employee -- which reduces the hiring pool -- the NBA started looking for specific types of people to referee their games. And once they started looking for those attributes, they found that a lot of women fit the bill. So they were hired.
And really, wouldn't we rather have the best refs regardless of gender?
Sarah Thomas has gotten solid votes of confidence wherever she's gone in the officiating business. And on Sunday, she'll be on the biggest stage yet -- a down judge as the Los Angeles Chargers take on the New England Patriots.
Anyone else wonder how long before she refs the Super Bowl?
READ MORE at this link. And watch this interview from 2015 (below)....