It’s a glass ceiling that has just been broken. The very macho world of American football is making its revolution this year on the occasion of the Super Bowl, 55th edition. The name on everyone’s lips is that of a woman, and for once she’s not a cheerleader: Sarah Tomas Thomas, 47, from Pascagoula, Mississippi, will be the first female referee to officiate at this event. major event in American sport.
“Having the honor of playing in the Super Bowl means you are at the peak of your career,” said the linesman. But “my real goal is just to be number 1 in my place”, soberly commented the “referee”, which was confined to the bare minimum on the media level.
Sarah Thomas is not there by chance, or by the fruit of the marketing opportunism of the NFL which recently decided to smooth its image. She officiates for six seasons in the NFL and is “official” since 1999. Sunday, she will officiate as “down judge”, responsible for monitoring offside, false starts and other faults before the action begins. An essential position in this sport where every inch counts.
An experienced referee at a very high level
Since entering the NFL, Sarah Thomas has played in 92 games, three playoff games, including this season’s Saints-Bucs before securing her own ticket to the final. “It means a lot to me. I have a little girl who looks at her mother and knowing that I have an impact on her and on other young girls all over the place, that honors me and makes me humble, ”she added in a commentary. video produced by the NFL. Off the field, Thomas works as a pharmaceutical representative and says she is blessed to have the support of her husband and three children.
In its early days, there was no lack of sexist or paternalistic comments. We forced her to make a ponytail, we even wanted to forbid her to wear makeup, but this southerner with a strong temperament sent her leaders back into their twenty-two. Then, she blended into the background, even with rather macho coaches in this environment. “Coaches are so focused on what they’re doing that they don’t notice me,” she told The New York Times in 2009. “This is what all referees tend towards: our best matches are when no one notices that we are there,” added the one who was still a university referee.
“It’s a step forward”
If his presence during the high mass of national sport does not surprise observers, it nevertheless reflects a broader movement. “The Americans are calling for more parity and diversity, it’s a bit like here: there are more and more female referees in football, Stéphanie Frappart in France is a good example”, analyzes Peter Anderson who will comment on the Super Bowl for the L’Équipe Channel this Sunday. Sarah Thomas will not be the only woman on the sidelines during this Super Bowl. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two women coaches in their workforce. Times are changing, you are told.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr