The NFL’s Newest Female Referees

Sarah Thomas and Terri Valenti – Women Breaking Barriers in the NFL

By Chloe Robinson and Lindsey Showers

Considering the sports industry is dominated by men, the news of Sarah Thomas becoming the first female on-field referee in NFL history was quite empowering. Thomas had already held the record as the first female to officiate a college bowl game, thus emphasizing the growing impact women are having on things that were originally predominantly male. In addition to Thomas’ fantastic achievements, Terri Valenti was named the first woman to serve as a replay official in an NFL playoff game. Considering Valenti was hired in 2015, many of her previous coworkers were fond of the news. Dean Blandino, a Fox Sports analyst, said he “couldn’t be happier” to see Terry’s success. Al Riveron, the current officiating chief of the NFL, claimed that the term used for Valenti’s position deserved to be more gender neutral, therefore changing it to “down judge” from “head linesman”. Many people are gushing over both Thomas and Valenti’s fantastic work in the NFL. Thomas was quick to stand up for herself when men tried to challenge her, thus proving even more that she was extremely worthy of her title. The women believe that they can still live a female life and be attractive, all while still maintaining their job on the field. Suggested by her older brother, Thomas became interested in football officiating after wanting to pursue her interest in sports. Many girls can look up to Thomas and Valenti as role models because of their ability to defy standards in the sports world and do it extremely well.

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