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A Little Power is A Dangerous Thing: High School Football Officials Face Discipline for Charity Support

Pink October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unless you live in a shack in the woods, you've probably figured this out by now. Supermarket checkout workers are asking if you want to donate a dollar, and there's pink everywhere, from the Empire State Building to fleets of 18-wheelers.

One of the biggest supporters of breast cancer awareness has been the National Football League, with players, coaches, officials and, yes, cheerleaders, wearing various and sundry pink items to show their support. So one would think that, if a bunch of high school football officials in Washington State wanted to get in on the philanthropy, using pink whistles during their games last Friday night and donating their pay to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it would be a pretty run-of-the-mill feel-good story.

One would, incredibly, be wrong. 140 of the officials used the pink whistles over the weekend and, as such, are in trouble with the Washington Officials Association. Todd Stordahl, head of the association, said that the refs had not asked permission to deviate from the standard equipment, and suggested those who participated might be prohibited from working in playoff games. He spouted off something about violating the rules and setting bad examples for players.

But, as noted by the Bleacher Report blog, and as confirmed by a "source" of mine (read: college buddy) who happens to be a high school football official in the great state of Washington, there don't appear to be any rules dictating the color of whistles that must be used during games. D'oh!

Once the story went national, Stordahl released a meaningless blurb of a half-hearted explanation, but stuck to his guns:

"WOA deeply regrets that there's any perception that we don't support any breast cancer programs," he said.

But still, Stordahl insists the referees needed to ask before changing their whistles.

"As someone who follows sports, that's all that we have are rules, regulations and interpretations."

To be more specific, what we have here are rules and regulations that appear to mention nothing about the color of an official's whistle, and an interpretation that makes sense only to someone so oblivious to the world around him that he should be required to wear a helmet when crossing the street. Congratulations, Todd. Way to take a stand for phantom principles while sacrificing anything resembling common sense. You're certainly getting your name out there.

Posted by Eric Lipman on October 25, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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