A Brief History
On August 9, 2012, Shannon Eastin became the first woman to referee an NFL football game. Like many professional football officials, she started out as a referee in high school and then college football games.
Eastin got her big break when the NFL and the referee union had contract troubles and the regular refs were locked out in 2012. Some sports writers and the NFL Referees Association objected to her employment by the NFL, especially since she had participated in the World Series of Poker, and pro sports are highly sensitive to anyone with ties or history with gambling.
Far from a single sport woman, Eastin is also the holder of six national championships in Judo and has a company that trains football and basketball referees.
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For more information, please see…
Eastin, Shannon. Lady Ref: Making Calls in a Man’s World. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2023.
Welter, Jen. Play Big: Lessons in Being Limitless from the First Woman to Coach in the NFL. Seal Press, 2017.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.