I could not believe my eyes when I read this story about a group of Washington state referees that banned together to donate their high school refereeing game checks to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research and to use pink whistles during those games. And now they are facing punishment for the use of those pink whistles without prior approval!
According to the chairman of the Washington Officials Association, Todd Stordahl, he has little choice but to discipline officials who used colored whistles. He claims that letting them continue without punishment would send the wrong message to student athletes. He claims that the official color for the whistles is black and using any other color without permission violates the uniform code. The punishment that they are facing is a two-game suspension which means that in addition to the checks that they donated, they would lose two more game checks.
To me, this is absolutely ludicrous. For anyone who knows me, I am a real stickler when it comes to rules and regulations and have always been that way. I would not have a single alcoholic drink before I turned 21 and I would never consider answering my cell phone while driving if my hands-free device was not available to answer that call. I do believe in abiding by uniform codes as I did when I went to private school and we had to wear specific uniforms or when I was a cheerleader and had specific uniform pieces that were selected according to the weather conditions. These officials all wore their uniforms as well.
I also believe that the punishment should fit the “crime”. To even consider a two-game suspension because they used a pink whistle rather than a black whistle is insane. Look at the things for which the athletes receive a two-game suspension! I can’t begin to imagine the justification that Mr. Stordahl has for this outrageous assessment.
I don’t like the message that Mr. Stordahl is actually sending to the student athletes. In my book, these officials deserve applause for what they did in donating their checks and by making others aware of this great cause in their own way as many others have done during breast cancer awareness month. If the WOA believes that these officials violated the uniform code, then the WOA should warn them that they consider this an infraction and should they do something like this again without permission, there will be repercussions. But a two-game suspension? Give me a break.
And that is a totally separate issue from the message being sent to the athletes. I am sure that there is not one single athlete whose family or the families of their friends and classmates have not been touched by cancer by the time they become high school athletes. The message should be that acknowledgment and support of this cause is a good thing, not something that should be punished. The message should be that what these officials have done is something that many others truly admire and support and appreciate. The message should be that not only did they increase awareness through the use of the pink whistles but that these people also donated the money that they earned from officiating their games. Let’s share this story with everyone that we know as I ask for your support and their support in sending a strong message to Todd Stordahl and the WOA that what these officials have done is a fine example for student athletes and that no punishment should be levied upon these officials.
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Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.