First Female Referee in the NFL

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I’m not a football fan, but living in San Diego I hear nothing but disappointment comes from the Chargers stadium (for local fans anyways). However, on Thursday August 9, 2012 something positive will be happening in the stadium regardless of what team you’re cheering for. The NFL will break down their gender barriers and allow Shannon Eastin to be the first woman to officiate an NFL game.

A  true role model, Eastin stated in an interview in 1999 with the Arizona Republic, “It may sound crazy to some people, but I think I can be in the NFL  some day. I told them that I would go referee in the NFL Europe league  for five years if that’s what it takes. You’ve got to believe  in yourself. If you don’t, nobody else will.”

As in all firsts for women, she will have to prove herself, but Eastin, who has reffed football for 16 years (the past four in the Middle-Eastern Athletic Conference or MEAC), should have no problem paving the way for other women who aspire to break gender barriers.

I wonder how fans will take to this change and how long it will be until the little jabs start popping up on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. I already read one post on Facebook from a male friend that stated, “First female referee in NFL history will be refereeing Chargers game Thursday night! Hope it’s the right time of the month, or will have to really watch out for the red flag!”

What do you think? Is this a great step for women? Will men be resistant to letting so much estrogen into such a testosterone driven sport? I am actually going to sit down and watch this woman make history. It will be the first NFL game I have ever watched (just on television). Who knows maybe she’ll pick up some extra fans for the NFL out there!

Lisbeth Prifogle is a freelance writer, Marine officer, and globetrotter currently in San Diego, CA. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles and a BA from DePauw University. Lisbeth spent six months in Iraq and is working on a memoir about her experiences. She keeps a blog titled The Next Bold Move and her work can be found in the 11th issue of Poem Memoir Story, The Splinter Generation, and In the Know Travel. Lisbeth has had problems balancing hormones since she was a teenager and is constantly researching and exploring natural remedies including diet, exercise, and alternative medicines.


  1. Professional football began in 1920. Almost a century later, a women finally will referee an NFL game — albeit a preseason game — during a lockout by the all-male cadre of “regular” officials. In other words, the NFL is allowing a female official work the field under extenuating circumstances. Nonetheless, Shannon Eastin is getting her foot through the door. I also plan to view tonight’s nationally televised game because I’m an NFL fan and, thanks to Lisbeth Prifogle’s post, I’ll be particularly watching the first female officiate a male-sanctioned, testosterone-laden sport. Shannon, make the moment count!

    • Thanks for commenting! I was informed after I published this, about the whole strike thing. I really don’t watch football so I didn’t realize that when I wrote this. I did, however, watch this game. A girlfriend told me that they are putting her hat and whistle in the sports hall of fame?! I hope they really do because it is a monumental accomplishment for women in sports!

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