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NFL Officiate Sarah Thomas Will Become First Woman to Referee a Super Bowl

NFL announces boundary-breaking referee crew for Super Bowl LV.

Credit: NFL on YouTube

Football reeks of testosterone: swaths of sweaty men grapple with each other on the field while swaths of other sweaty men sit on their couches simultaneously screaming and shoving wings into their mouths. Get ready to welcome a healthy dose of estrogen to the sport in the form of Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first female to officiate a Super Bowl. 

For the record, I know women like football, too. But in terms of physical bodies, the sport is overwhelmingly male. Thomas, a 47-year-old Mississipi native, already broke down barriers when she became the first-ever female NFL officiant in 2015. 

In 2017, she switched positions and became a “head linesman.” The following year, the NFL changed the name of that role to the more gender-neutral “down judge.” She made football history yet again in 2019 when she was selected as the first female to officiate a playoff game. And now she’s going to the big one! Go, Sarah. She and six men make up the officiating crew for Super Bowl LV, which will take place on February 7th in Tampa Bay, Florida. 

The crew members were selected for their impressive work over the 17-game season. Carl Cheffers, who refereed Super Bowl LI in 2017, will lead the team. In a statement last week, Troy Vincent, Sr., NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, boasted that the chosen referees are “the best of the best.” He went on to praise Thomas:

 “Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl. Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor.”  

Twitter is already abuzz with excitement over Thomas’s achievement. 

Thomas became a football officiant over 20 years ago. In an interview with Charlotte Wilder for, she described her entry into the male-dominated field after hearing that her brother was on his way to a seminar about officiating: 

“I said, ‘Can girls do that?’ And he was just like, ‘I guess so.’ 

So I showed up at this first meeting 20 years ago. I walked in and the gentleman in the front of the room was talking, and then he just stopped. And I said, ‘Is this where you become a football official?’ And he said a few choice words, and then he said, ‘I guess so.’”

And the rest is football history. Check this out to continue riding the high of female empowerment. 

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