Out of the Shark Zone, Jan. 15, 2019

First female NFL Playoffs referee

On Sunday, January 13, Sarah Thomas was a referee in the AFC divisional playoff game with the Chargers facing off against the Patriots, making her the first woman to referee an NFL playoff game. This isn’t her first “first” however, as she was also the first woman to referee a major college football game, the first woman to officiate in a Big Ten stadium and the first to officiate a bowl game. About half of the NFL’s fanbase are women but only about a third are official league employees. The NFL has been taking steps recently to include women more, like launching the first women’s summit in 2016. Despite all the effort put into including more women, there is still a struggle with representation, especially in senior positions. The league is improving though, with the first openly gay and second full-time female coach in 2017 and the first full-time female coach in the 2016-2017 season.

Co-founder of NASCAR team passes away

On Friday, Jan. 11, J.D. Gibbs died at age 49 after a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. He was the oldest son of former Washington Redskins coach, Joe Gibbs, and co-founder, president, and co-chairman of the Joe Gibbs NASCAR racing team. He supposedly launched the career of the Daytona 500 winner, Denney Hamlin and was an avid supporter of Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch, both of whom won championships for his organization. Before he was in management, he was a crewmember for the Joe Gibbs team, changing tires and acting as a part-time diver. He made 13 starts in the NASCAR national series from 1998-2002.

Andy Murray announces retirement

Scottish tennis player Andy Murray announced on Friday, Jan. 11 that he will be retiring due to chronic pain in a pre-Australian Open press conference. The 31-year-old tennis player has been struggling with a hip injury that required surgery 12 months ago. He hopes to keep on playing until the Championships Wimbledon this summer but fears that his injury might stop him from playing at the highest level. Murray stated in the press conference that he’s been in pain for the past 20 months and has tried everything to get better.

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