In a sport where women are not allowed to play, but are currently 44 percent of the viewers watching a game, is having a female NFL official something we could see in the near future? According to Carl Johnson, the NFL’s head of officials, yes! He says that a few women are currently under consideration and that he expects he will be hiring one to officiate in the NFL soon.
One of these women could be Sarah Thomas, a 38 year-old Division I official in Conference USA. In 2007, Thomas is believed to be the first woman to officiate a Division I game. She is now in her fifth season as a Division I official, making her eligible for consideration at the professional level. For an official to be considered for the NFL, he/she must have at least five years of collegiate experience and prior to that five to seven years’ experience officiating high school games.
This new possibility has sparked discussion about whether women officials will change the dynamic of the game. Can female officials help break up fights or go to the bottom of a pile in order to see who has possession? Similar to these and more, are questions that Violet Palmer had to face in 2006 when she became the first and only female NBA referee. Her presence has had an affirmative impact on the league, but will it be the same for the first female official in the NFL? Only time will tell!