Naughty referees, Washington, and sending the “wrong message”

Though I do spend a certain part of my time working in athletics (announcing, timing, scoring, etc), I rarely post on high school sports, but this caught my eye.

As hopefully most of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  As a part of that, and as a part of the mission of schools to teach a little about compassion, and philanthropy, a great many schools across the nation are raising money for breast cancer charities.  My school was no exception:  we sold pink t-shirts, declared our last home game of the year a “pink out”, and encouraged everyone to wear pink.  Our dance team wore pink costumes …. the cheerleaders wore pink bows, and even the football players got taped up in pink and wore pink wristbands.

In Washington state, the referees got into the act too … many of them not only donated their weekend’s checks to the Susan G. Kormen Institute (if it is like Illinois, a good referee can easily make $200+ in a weekend), but went out and got pink whistles.

Apparently, the Washington Officials Association, the group responsible for overseeing athletic officials in Washington state, has deemed that this act is worthy of discipline;  that means two week suspensions for the playoffs.  That amounts to another $200-$400 … oh, by the way, since we are into the playoffs in high school football, that means calling up lesser officials for the games (if Washington state has a merit system for assigning referees in state playoff games.

The chair of the officials’ association is quoted as saying:

They chose not to ask for permission, not to go the right route, …. It sends the wrong message to kids that are playing the game. ‘If they broke the rules why can’t I do the same.’

I think the more important mention that it sends is:  “Don’t you dare ever think of violating minor, inconsequential rules while doing something that sets a good example for young people, by demonstrating compassion for others and solidarity with those who are suffering … something that schools are actually trying to teach.”

My school has a dress code.  Teachers are not supposed to wear t-shirts. I didn’t ask permission (nor was it granted) when I wore my pink t-shirt all day … because I know that my administrators actually use their brains, and realize the value of doing something like this.

I hope the people in charge of officials in Washington grow a brain and realize that some rules should have common sense exceptions, and that permission needn’t be asked in advance for them.


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