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From the Sidelines: Blowing the whistle on officials

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By Brian Blair

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This means that plenty of people have been seeing pink this month. The show of support for those who have suffered from or are suffering from this dreaded disease has carried over to high-school football fields all over the country.

Even Maurice Bowling Middle School got into the act a couple of weeks ago during its playoff game. The BMS cheerleading squad wore pink socks and used pink pom-poms during the game.

Another group of people who are showing their support have been officials. It may not be obvious from the stands, but many officials are using pink whistles and some have even donated game checks to the Susan G. Koman Foundation.

This is true in the state of Washington. The problem for some officials is that their generosity has appeared to backfire on them and they are the ones who may now be penalized. 

Let me just say before I go on that I am not making any of this up no matter how ridiculous it may sound.

This past Thursday night, several officials in Washington used the pink whistles and promised to donated their game checks. The only problem is that it might get them suspended.

That’s right. I said suspended.

It appears the Washington Officials Association took exception to the officials’ use of the pink whistles. They said it violated the uniform policy that says officials can only use black whistles. Representatives for the WOA claim that the refs did not ask permission before violating the dress code. It was said that to allow the officials to blatantly break the rules without punishment would send the wrong message to players — that they too can break rules and get away with it.

As a result, the officials are in danger of being suspended two games. That means they would lose three game checks. Two for the games they may miss and one for the check they are donating.

Are you kidding me?

Here’s a group of guys who are trying to do something worthwhile and for a good cause and they get punished. Now I can see if these guys decided to do the game wearing pink tutus how that might be an issue that might need to be approved. But come on, we are talking about a pink whistle.

Did the officials break the rule? Yes. Maybe they should have asked permission and maybe they were unaware of the rule and how it worked. Whatever happened, I still think the WOA has more to worry about than several people who were looking to bring awareness to a disease that has affected millions of people.

Breast cancer is a disease that does not care who it affects. It is not prejudice of race or social status. It appears that while the disease does not care about color the WOA does.

Memo to the WOA: Real men wear pink and that includes whistles. Get over yourself and let the boys blow their whistles no matter what color they are.

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Brian Blair is the sports reporter for the News-Herald.