The continuing saga of the pink whistles

One dumb move deserves another.

By now, you’ve probably heard the story about the Washington Officials Association decision to punish football officials from the Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association for wearing pink whistles during games in support of breast cancer awareness.

If you haven’t, here’s a recap.

Officials for the Seattle-based PNFOA decided to wear pink whistles during games last October and donate their game checks to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Todd Stordahl of the WOA said the PNFOA did not request permission from the WOA to alter its normal game uniforms and said sanctions may be forthcoming.

After a wave of public support for the PNFOA, Stordahl decided not to do anything — until another six months went by. Then he decided to place 143 of its game officials on three years of probation and limit their allocation to state high school playoff games as punishment for the pink whistles.

Again there was a surge of support for the game officials and their act of charity. But this time Stordahl and the WOA did not reconsider their sanctions, saying that it would send the wrong message to the kids.

Apparently, the message Stordahl wants to send to the kids is that it’s OK to use a position of power to act like a pompous buffoon.

If he were a smarter guy, Stordahl simply could have placed the officials on probation, helping ensure against a repeat of the officials break of procedural etiquette, and then he could have find the officials one game check during the 2012 season. Money raised from those fines could have then been donated to breast cancer research and awareness.

But Stordahl is not that clever. In fact, according to PNFOA president Jeff Mattson, the WOA added another year of probation to the punishment after the PNFOA refused to punish their own members for speaking out about the issue in the media.

So what did the PNFOA do, after not getting any change of heart from the WOA or any assistance from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which hires its game officials through the WOA?

The PNFOA filed a lawsuit against the WOA and the WIAA earlier this month, seeking to force the WOA to rescind the punishment. Mattson called the punishment “excessive and arbitrary” and defended the officials’ right to free speech.


Of course, the lawsuit has absolutely no legal merit.

The football officials basically work for the WOA, and the WOA can set the terms of employment as long as those terms don’t violate any laws. And they don’t.

Beyond that, WOA can do whatever it wants to the game officials.

But, really, the PNFOA isn’t looking to win a lawsuit. It’s trying to keep the story in the public eye and the pressure on the WOA.

Good luck with that. As the PNFOA should know well, officials don’t like to reverse their calls, even when they have been completely blown.

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