Super Bowl LV was historic.
This statement could refer to Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s record-breaking tenth Super Bowl appearance and seventh Super Bowl win. But we’re talking about someone who made history from the sidelines — Sarah Thomas, who is now the first female NFL referee to ever officiate a Super Bowl game.
Thomas served as a down judge for the big game — meaning that she watched each play for fouls or illegal contact by athletes. “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,” Troy Vincent, Sr., NFL executive vice president of football operations, told CBS News.
Viewers — including FLOTUS Jill Biden — celebrated the landmark achievement on Twitter. Scores of people took to the social networking app to congratulate her, fans and colleagues alike. “When I look around the sidelines at games, I’m often only one of a handful of women,” NFL senior manager of social content AJ Curry wrote. “Sarah Thomas continues to remind me there’s ALWAYS a place for me there.”
This wasn’t Thomas’ first time making history — not by a long shot.
When she was hired by the NFL in 2015, she became the first full-time female referee the league ever brought on. She was also the first woman to make calls for an NFL playoff game, an achievement she made in 2019. In addition, Thomas became the first woman to officiate a major college football game in 2007, and the first female referee at a Bowl game (played between college teams) in 2009.
Now that’s how you tackle a glass ceiling.