Story at a glance

  • The 2021 Super Bowl will make history by featuring the first woman official on the field during the game.
  • Sarah Thomas previously officiated four playoff games in the NFL.

As avid football fans await the Super Bowl LV amid an uncertain 2020 season set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the athletic event will break barriers for women in the NFL as a woman will finally serve as an on-field game official for the first time.

The NFL announced on Jan. 19 that Sarah Thomas will be the first woman to serve in Super Bowl history as a down judge, alongside seven other male officials.

“Sarah Thomas has made history again as the first female Super Bowl official,” Troy Vincent, the Executive Vice President of Football Operations said. “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.”



Prior to working as a Down Judge in the Super Bowl, Thomas has experience working in the same position for four seasons. USAToday notes that she had worked on the staff of the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers playoff game in January of 2019.

Professional male sports leagues have seen women taking lead roles in the games over the past months. 

In December, NBA coach Becky Hammon made history as the first woman to lead an NBA team during a league game following the ejection of head coach Gregg Popovich. 

The Super Bowl LV will be held in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 7.

Published on Jan 19, 2021