October 27, 2017 - Monroe Township, NJ - Ernie and Anthony Lunardelli told representatives from Colts Neck and Monroe High School that they'd walk off the field if any player protested the anthem. They were true to their word. See N.J. High School Football Refs Walk Off Field In Protest After Players Take Knee During Anthem, reported by Greg Tufaro, northjersey.com, October 28, 2017; see also Two Refs Refuse to Work New Jersey High School Game After Anthem Protest, AP Wire Service Story on WABC-TV New York, October 28, 2017. Yes, this is a clear breach of contract by the officials. Also, this was a public school game so the schools don't have a legal right to bar the student protests, meaning that any official who couches his officiating on a school quashing a protest is asking the school to violate the Constitution. In short, this official was contractually out of line and tried to force a school to violate the Constitution. Now, the question is what actions will the officials' Association or the New Jersey State Interscholastic Association take. We will see. We do know that an official who walked out of a game after an athletic protested the anthem earlier this month received an 18 month suspension. See Indianapolis, IN - Air Force One Vet Turned Ref Walks out After Athlete Kneels, is Suspended for 18 Months, reported by Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, October 19, 2017.
March 29, 2017 - Death Threats To Final Four Ref. See Death Threats To A Ref - The Lunatics Are Threatening To Overtake Kentucky's Fan Base, reported by Pat Forde, yahoosports. You might ask yourself whether there was a highly controversial call that led to the death threats. Nope. You might wonder whether there was a massive foul disparity. Nope - the fouls were 19 to 18. This is just another case of classless fans and an official who has to bear the brunt of their wrath.
February 9, 2017 - Hazel Park, MI - A Michigan high school game turns into utter chaos. The Athletic Director was ejected; a student threw a bottle onto the floor; numerous parents complained to officials; one official is on film running from a group of spectators; and in the midst of it all the chaos we see something we seldom see: a referee pushing a fan. Usually, it's the other way around - and in a pretty big way as officials are constantly attacked, beaten and occasionally even killed by spectators and players. You can see the wild scene for yourself as the whole thing is caught on film. See Hazel Park and North Farmington Basketball Game Descends Into Basket-Brawl, reported by Jim Kiertzner, WXYZ-TV (Detroit), February 10, 2017.
January 23, 2017 - Indiana - Craig Faught, an Indiana high school basketball referee, leads the charge to make batteries upon sports officials a felony in Indiana. See Bills Aim To Protect Officials, Drop Felony on Disgruntled Sports Fans, reported by Becky Jacobs, Indiana Post-Tribune (covering Northwest Indiana).
October 21, 2016 - Jacksonville, N.C. - Should An Official Protest The Anthem? On the one hand, one might say that the official is part of society and should be able to engage in the same conduct as any other self - respecting citizen. On the other hand, any act that distracts from the role of neutral arbiter hinders the official's ability to do one of the most important part of their job: create the appearance of fairness and neutrality. Somewhere, somebody will not agree with one of the official's calls, and the protest may make the person who disagrees conflate the disagreement with the call into something more. Sometimes the simple act of taking a knee has broader ramifications ... on the other hand, some would say those ramifications pale in comparison to what the official is protesting. But, read for yourself. See Football Official Kneels During National Anthem At Southwest Game, reported by Naomi Whidden, Jacksonville Daily News, October 22, 2016.
July 31, 2016 - Grand Rapids, MI - It's difficult to conceive of this in the year 2016, but a mere 43 years ago an African-American Big-Ten official was a rarity. The world has changed quickly. But, it was only 1973 when Jim Eaddy became the second African-American Big-Ten basketball official. Jim was also the first African-American to officiate high school basketball in Michigan. Time does fly. Unfortunately, we revisit the Jim Eaddy story through an obituary. See Jim Eaddy Dies: Standout Basketball Coach In Grand Rapids and Pioneer Referee, reported by Peter J. Wallner, mlive.com.
February 5, 2016 - There's A Troubling New Game In Town: Attack The Ref, reported by Paul Newberry, Associated Press, published in U.S. News and World Report.
Tennessee - December 18, 2014 - TSSAA To Fine Schools If Coaches Criticize Refs, Sweetwater (TN) Advocate and Democrat.
Bakersfield, CA – June 9, 2014 – Fans don’t think about it, but their misconduct has consequences. In Bakersfield, they’re having trouble getting officials. See Kern County Association Faces Referee Shortage, Bakersfield Californian by Jeff Evans, June 9, 2014.
Texas - 2013 - 2013 sees an end to the UIL vs. TASO dispute over who runs high school officiating in Texas. Now, officials will register with the UIL, which is Texas’s high school governing body. However, the UIL will not be allowed to operate an officials’ association. The net effect is that the UIL will likely charge registration fees, but TASO will govern all the assigning, training, and association management of officiating. This is a win/win ending to an ugly dispute. Click here to read from TASO’s Executive Director on this legislation.
Anchorage, Alaska – October 13, 2012 - Officials: When your assigners tell you that you need to be a professional both on and off the court, pay attention. A gentleman named Peter Friesema got arrested the other day. When he was arrested, he not only made national news, he made national news because he is an NCAA hockey referee … even though he wasn’t officiating when he was arrested, and his arrest had nothing to do with NCAA hockey. Once you’re an official, the things you do off the court, field or ice can count against you in your officiating capacity. To see what Friesema is dealing with, see NCAA Hockey Referee Arrested For Joke About Bomb At Alaska Airport by Greg Wyshynski, yahoosports.com, October 15, 2012.
Wyoming - May 14, 2012 - Wyoming is ready to roll out new rules on using social medial to criticize officials ... and it's about time. It's hard enough to enforce sportsmanship rules barring public criticism of officials, and modern day social media makes it a lot tougher. The Wyoming High School Activities Association decided that at the very least a policy about social media should be in place. As we get ready for the 2012-13 school sports season, Wyoming has barred the use of social media to publicly criticize officials and opposing teams. Will that stop everybody? No. However, the rule sets a standard, and makes it clear what the expectations are. The rule also gives the WHSAA the ability to step in and take action as everybody is now on notice that misconduct on social media is not permitted in Wyoming. See WHSAA Strengthens Social Media Policy by Jeremiah Johnke, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, May 14, 2012.
Toledo, Ohio - January 9, 2012 - What's in The Official's Bag? Jersey: Check, Whistle: Check, Gun?: Check. Huh, gun? Is this a track meet? No, it's what Darrel Phillips of Toledo allegedly had in his bag when it was stolen from the officials' locker room at Southview HS in Toledo. Phillips is facing charges for bringing the gun onto school property. See Southview Bars Referee Who Brought In Gun, Wants Him Fired by Ashley Streichert, Toledo Blade, January 18, 2012.
Corvallis, OR - November 3, 2011 - High School Referee Arrested, License Revoked, Reported by Heather Turner, KEZI TV, Corvallis, OR., November 3, 2011. Normally, poor change areas and poorly secured change areas are a problem for high school sports officials - assuming there's a change area at all. LaJames Sweet of Oregon allegedly turned this problem on its head. Sweet allegedly took advantage of poor locker room security by sneaking into a girls' locker room and stealing $35. It gets worse, though. After Sweet's arrest on the alleged theft charges, authorities discovered that he had allegedly lied on his application to be a substitute teacher, and also allegedly used fingerprints other than his own to pass background checks. For more seeHigh School Sports Official Arrested by Emily Gillespie, Corvallis Gazette-Times, November 3, 2011.
Surprise, AZ - September 26, 2011 - Umpire Accused of Paying Teens For Sex, reported by Navideh Forghani, ABC TV, Phoenix, AZ., September 26, 2011. Edward Lee Hartley, the softball official who stands accused, should be a case study in sleaze and the limits of our ability to detect it. First, Hartley was an Arizona high school softball official. All Arizona sports officials must pass a criminal background check. Hartley passed even though ABC has discovered that he has a criminal history, including "sexual assault, sexual misconduct and rape... [and] at least six prior sex crimes violations." Hartley shows us the limits of background checks. There are different levels of such checks, and at some levels you can miss crimes in other jurisdictions, and even some older criminal convictions. Hartley also shows us the limits of reporting. ABC reports on Hartley's criminal history but fails to tell us whether Hartley's criminal history includes arrests or convictions. A curious reader may wonder how a person with such an extensive criminal history is out walking the streets; they won't get their answer from ABC. Finally, Hartley's story is an illustration in criminal comeuppance. ABC reports that Hartley's victims were a 13 and a 14 year old girl. According to ABC, Hartley offered them $400 for sex. The enterprising children accepted Hartley's offer, but ABC reports that they "called police after they realized the money Hartley gave them was counterfeit." Oddly, Hartley doesn't appear to have been umpiring when he committed this crime so it is a bit odd to see the headlines reporting on him as an umpire. Most people don't think of high school umpiring as a part-time vocation, and would tend to classify most umpires by their full-time occupation. For example, someone may be a school teacher who umpires or a doctor who referees basketball. For Hartley to be classified as an umpire may be a bit of bad luck for the officiating industry in that it indicates that he has done nothing else in life that merits mentioning. Anyway, enough on Hartley. You can read the ABC story for more.
Washington State - September 2011 - Even When They're Right - Some People Still Think They're Wrong! A year ago the Washington Officials Association, which governs sports officials in Washington State, made news when it barred one of its member associations from wearing pink whistles for breast cancer awareness. The WOA's argument that they did many support activities, but member associations needed to get authorization to do them was lost in the firestorm of publicity that made the WOA look like bad bureaucrats. Well, the WOA was telling the truth! They just finished their fourth annual blue flag day, where every official in the state uses blue football penalty flags instead of yellow ones to show support for prostate cancer. How much publicity has the WOA gotten for this? Can you say, very little? Of course, after the pink whistle flap it was just a matter of time before somebody said, hmmm, you supported prostate cancer but not breast cancer. The WOA's arguments about the blue flags coming through their process and the pink whistles resulting from a group going off on their own won't dissuade those critics. In other words, even when the WOA wins, it loses in the eyes of some critics. The moral of all this - no matter what you do and how well you do it, nobody likes you if you look like a bureaucrat. The WOA deserves some credit here, and I'm sure that many people will give it to them. Will that balance the critics? Only time will tell. See Referees To Throw Blue Flags For Prostate Cancer Awareness by Bob Taylor, Issaquah Press, September 14, 2011; but also see Referees' Blue Flags Called 'Sexist' After Pink Whistle Flap, King - 5 News-TV, Seattle, WA - September 16, 2011.
Sacramento, CA - October 27, 2011 - Sacramento Volleyball Officials Dispute Turns Officiating On Its Head. When Sacramento’s elite volleyball officials broke away from their old association, officiating contracts forced local high school leaders to use rookie officials, leading the elite varsity and college officials to work a middle school slate. Nobody’s happy and the mess can’t be sorted out this year. We’ll have to stand by and see what happens down the road. See Top Refs Form New Group, Are Shut Out of Prep Volleyball by John Parker, Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2011, page 1-C.
Reno, NV - August 24, 2011 - Schools Can Lay Down Their Best Plans But Without Officials, They're Not Going to Happen. See High School Football: Referee Shortage Likely Means Fewer Friday Games by Chris Gable, Reno Gazette-Journal, August 24, 2011.
Louisville, Ohio - August 29, 2011 - AD Defends Excessive Celebration Penalty Called Against His School - Even Though His School Had A Most Sympathetic Reason For Their Celebration. Louisville High School's Alex Schooley was called for an excessive celebration penalty after scoring a fourth quarter touchdown with 1:15 remaining in the game. The penalty helped Louisville's opponent gain good field position, and ultimately helped them get into position for a game winning kick. Schooley was penalized for pointing at the sky after his score, but he had good cause. His friend had died and Schooley was one of the pallbearers. In short, this was an understandable gesture - but it was only understandable if you knew Schooley and knew what had occurred. If you didn't, then the penalty was simply an act of rules enforcement. And that's the whole point. We have excessive celebration rules to deter a team sport from being marred by acts of self-aggrandizement. Officials are supposed to enforce those rules, and they're not supposed to waive the rules for subjective factors. Of course, it is most unlikely that the officials knew why Schooley was celebrating. However, what if they did? Do we want officials to arbitrarily waive rules based on their sympathy with one player? This may be a sympathetic starting point, but where would it stop. Anyway, you know what happened after the game ... or at least you think you know. Yes, the hometown fans ripped the mean old official, and Hank Zaborniak, the assistant commissioner for the state high school sports association, explained the rationale behind the rule. See After Losing Friend, Player Penalized For Show of Emotion, reported by Dave Nethers, Fox Channel 8, Louisville, August 29, 2011. However, the story doesn't end with the fans ripping the official and the state governing body looking like bureaucrats. Oh, no. One man rose above it all. Louisville Athletic Director Rich Venuto went on television the day after the game, and pointed out that the official did exactly what he was supposed to do, and stated that he hoped his fans would accept the call and move on. See AD Responds To Call That Penalized Show of Emotion, reported by Dave Nethers, Fox Channel 8, Louisville, August 30, 2011; and An Unpopular Stance by R. J. Anderson, Athletic Management Blog, September 5, 2011. The AD is correct here. There are lessons to be learned in sports. One lesson, which is particularly painful, is that we must display the attributes that we value even in the most adverse moments. This was the most adverse moment, and we should sympathize with the student who was penalized. However, we must also do what the AD did, and tell that child and his supporters that even though we sympathize, we are still held to our standard.
Natomas, CA – May 23, 2011 – Indecent Exposure Charges Against Natomas, CA Man Who Worked As A Youth Soccer Referee. This didn’t happen on the field, and it wouldn’t normally be worth mentioning on this website. However, CBS Channel 13 noted that background checks are not required for youth sports officials in California. Of course, Channel 13 then immediately noted why many places don’t require youth sports officials to have background checks by observing that referees don’t have unsupervised contact with players. Indeed, since referees are so often assaulted by parents, players, and coaches, it is pretty important for a referee to always be either with their officiating partner, with security or game management, or in an area where they can be seen by as many people as possible. See Accused Groper Worked As Youth Soccer Ref, CBS Channel 13, Sacramento, CA, May 23, 2011.
Buenos Aires, Argentina - May 17, 2011 - Argentine soccer may have found its Tim Donaghy .. or worse, they may have a whole bunch of Tim Donaghys if one believes former soccer official Javier Ruiz. Ruiz says that Argentinian soccer officiating is riddled with corruption. While there's no evidence to support Ruiz's claim, I'm sure there'll be ample investigations of his charges and we'll ultimately get a better sense of corruption - or lack of such - in Argentine soccer. See Report: Ex-referee Makes Fix Claims In Argentina, Yahoo Sports, May 17, 2011.
Norfolk, VA - April 12, 2011 - We all know some official who's dedicated his life to serving our youth. These officials seldom are recognized. That's what makes this article so refreshing. SeeHigh School Umpire's Career Spans Generations by Rich Radord, The Virginian-Pilot, April 12, 2011 (reporting on Virginia baseball umpire Bob Barry).
New York, N.Y. - June 10, 2010 - NFL Attacks Officiating Shortages By Going To ...... The Projects? That's Right. The Projects. See N.F.L. Scouts For Refs In Public Housing by Emily B. Hager, New York Times, June 10, 2010.
East Lansing, MI - May 4, 2010 - Mid-Michigan Umpires Associations To Conduct Officials For Kids Give-A-Game Donations Thursday. MHSAA Press Release, May 4, 2010. This is as good as it gets. Umpires already give back by calling our kids' games, and they give back even more with their annual charitable program for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
Connecticut - March 23, 2010 - Connecticut Takes Strong Steps To Stop Coaches From Publicly Criticizing Game Officials. See CIAC Passes New Coach Rules by Ken Lipshez, New Britain Herald, March 23, 2010 (click here for Lipshez's article in the Bristol Press).
Philadelphia, PA - March 16, 2010 - Philadelphia School Loses By 30 In Playoffs, Blames "Racist" Officials. Nothing New, Here. They Lost In Playoffs In 2009, and Blamed "Racist" Officials For That Loss Too. Sometimes you're inclined to feel sorry for high school teams in State Playoff competition. They're playing out of their area, facing different skill levels, and styles of play. The officials may be seeing a different style of play, too. You can almost begin to feel sorry for the Math, Civics and Sciences Charter High School of Philadelphia - even if you're inclined to disagree with their charges of racist and biased officiating. Then you realize that they received seven technical fouls, and the game was called with 13 seconds to go when a MC&S Charter "whipped the ball" into the stands. Now, it's harder to feel sorry for this team. They didn't carry themselves with dignity on the court, and their charges of racially biased officiating certainly don't indicate a lot of off-court dignity. When you lose by 30 points and accuse people whom you don't know of racism without any evidence other than a disagreement with some calls, you simply don't have dignity. For more, see Math, Civics, and Science Founder Alleges 'Discrimination' by Referees by Ted Silary, Philadelphia Daily News, March 23, 2010.
Houston, TX – January 14, 2010 - TASO vs. UIL. A battle for control of Texas’s sports officials. For three decades, Texas sports officials registered through the Texas Association of Sports Officials. This school year, the University Interscholastic League, the organization that governs Texas high school sports decided that they wanted control. Well, as you can imagine, TASO didn’t look too kindly on being run out of business. The fight for Texas was on. This is a long, ugly battle. For details, see Officials’ Tug of War Reaches New Level by San Khan, Jr., Houston Chronicle, January 14, 2010.
Tecumseh, MI - January 23, 2010 - Official Grabs Throat To Stop Confrontation by Mickey Alvarado, Tecumseh Herald, January 25, 2010. The official (Erich Schifter) grabbed a wrestler (Tim Elkins of Tecumseh HS) by the throat to break up two wrestlers who were wrestling while out of bounds. The official then walked the wrestler across the mat while gripping the wrestler's throat and screaming, "You don't misbehave on my mat." The wrestler's reply? "Let go of my throat." Words don't do this justice, but the link provides the video.
California and New Jersey - December 2009 - Female Officials Making the Calls In Football! Terri Valenti hired by United Football League becomes first woman to work in a professional football league. See UFL Hires Valenti As First Female Official, Referee Magazine, December 2009, page 11. Also Robin DeLorenzo becomes first female official to work a high school football championship game. See Female High School Football Referee Robin DeLorenzo Finds Acceptance in Officiating Fraternity by Jackie Friedman, Newark Star-Ledger, October 1, 2009.
Bloomington, IN - November 30, 2009 - Economics gone mad! Two years ago the Moneyball movement hit officiating with a study on whether NBA officials show racial bias in their calls. Click here for Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees. The NBA study was refuted (and pretty persuasively I might add) by the NBA, but once you let an economist in the room, he's never coming out. Yes, the economists are back. This time, a study claims that basketball refs even out the fouls. See Study Says College Basketball Refs Try To Keep Foul Calls Even by Jonathan Abrams, New York Times, November 30, 2009. Now if you really want to be impressed by superior minds, see the actual Article Abstract of Officiating Bias: The Effect of Foul Differential on Foul Calls In NCAA Basketball by Kyle J. Anderson and David A. Pierce, Journal of Sports Sciences, Vol 27, Issue 7, page 687 (May 2009). Now, I hate to tell you that this article might be a bit shaky. However, a study of 365 games during a season in which 5,550 games are played doesn't strike me as very statistically relevant, but hey, what do I know. Oh, it also might have helped if Anderson and Pierce studied more than the first half; that's right, they only studied the first half because teams might intentionally foul in the second half. Really now? Teams don't intentionally foul for the whole second half. But who am I to question? I'm not an economist.... thank goodness.
U.K. - November 15, 2009 - It's not news to officials that players don't know the rules, but it's probably news to everybody else. The Guardian's Sports Blogger is shocked, shocked! to find out that players don't know the rules. See Arrested Development Over Football's Laws Is Absolutely Criminal, The Sport Blog, The Guardian (UK), November 15, 2009.
Baltimore, MD - October 28, 2009 - Illegal Uniforms: Subject of Constant Controversy - If officials enforce the rule, they're the bad guys and if they don't, well, then the uniform rules lack meaning. The classic darned if you do/darned if you don't situation. In 2008, a track official created a national controversy by disqualifying a Muslim athlete for violating a uniform rule. The runner could cover her body, but she covered it with an illegal uniform. The official enforced the rule, and caught a lot of flack for doing so. See When The Rules Run Up Against Faith: Prep Athlete Wearing Muslim Clothing Disqualified From Meet by Alan Goldenbach, Washington Post, January 16, 2008 page A01. In February, 2009, an Illinois basketball team ran afoul of a uniform rule in the Illinois state playoffs. In October, a Maryland official enforced a uniform rule against a cross country team that had won the Baltimore County Cross Country race. The official struck a cord judging from the media attention. For the story, see Uniform Violation Costs Bulls Title by Jeff Seidel, Baltimore Sun, October 27, 2009; For reactions, see Losing by a Thread: Our View: When a Pinstripe Decides A Championship, Participants Are At A Loss, Baltimore Sun Editorial, October 29, 2009; High-School Running Champs Lose Crown Due To Illegal Undies by Mark Hyman, parentdish.com; October 28, 2009; and the Newark Star-Ledger got so mad about this rule that they confused the boys who violated the rule with girls, titling their story, Girls Cross Country: Wrong Undies, Flawed Officiating by Rich Bevensee, Newark Star-Ledger, November 5, 2009.
August, 2009 - Officials: Those missed calls aren't your fault. That's right, there's a scientific explanation for your errors. See 3 Smart Things About Referees by Candice Chan, Wired Magazine, August 2009, page 32 (noise, color and something called the "100-millisecond lag in our visual systems" may have led to that missed call ); Also see, Perceptual Mislocalization Of Bouncing Ball By Professional Tennis Referees by David Whitney, Nicole Wurnitsch, Byron Hontiveros, and Elizabeth Louie, Current Biology, Vol. 18, Issue 20, Pages R947-R949 (October, 2008); and Tennis Refs are People, Too: Visual Illusion To Blame For All Those Bad Calls, 60-Second Science Blog by Jordan Lite, Scientific American, October 27, 2008 (our brain's produce a visual illusion that makes refs' erroneous calls overwhelmingly more likely to be on balls they call "out" than on ones they judge as "in").
San Diego, Ca and New Mexico - April, 2009 - Officials Face New Licenses and Fees In Changing Economy.
It used to be so simple to handle the business side of officiating. Now, states are broke and they need money. Officials are stuck in the middle. Some states call officials' associations employers, subjecting them to exorbitant employment taxes that have to be passed on to schools. Some states have found officials to be independent contractors. When this happens, the schools and associations breathe a sigh of relief .. but don't hold your breath. Governments have ways of going after independent contractors, too. San Diego sports officials have been hit with expensive business license taxes. New Mexico officials were subject to the New Mexico gross receipts tax until they got a recent exemption. In this changing economic world, officials face new economic challenges. See It's The Law: Athletic Officials Need A License To Call by Nicole Vargas, San Diego Union Tribune, November 4, 2008; and Governor Bill Richardson Signs Bill Supporting School Sports Officials, State of New Mexico Press Release, April 2, 2009.
November 2008 - San Diego Almost Lost The 2008 High School Soccer Season Due To A Threatened Referees' Strike. Read all about it here! What Do You Think? Were the San Diego Officials Underpaid? With The Economy Going South Do People Sympathize With These Officials - Don't Answer Too Fast! Remember, They Don't Make A Lot of Money and They Do Take A Lot of Abuse? See Soccer Officials' Pay Issue Unresolved by Ivan Orosco, San Diego Union Tribune, November 7, 2008; Progress Made In Officials' Strike by Scott Bair, North County Times, November 13, 2008; and HS Season On Despite Stalemate by Erin Murphy, Daily San Diego Soccer News, November 25, 2008. San Diego Soccer Refs Still On Strike: Coaches and Fill-In Refs Make The Call This Soccer Season. See Subs The Rule For Referees: Amid Pay Dispute, Schools and Leagues Around County Scrambling For Soccer Officials by Ivan Orozco, San Diego Union-Tribune, January 13, 2009
November, 2008 - For a Detailed Look At Game Prep and Professionalism, Check Out USA Today's Series: A Ref's Life. Click here for A Ref's Life: To Get Ready Officials Often Go To The Tape by Chris Colston, USA Today, November 17, 2008; A Ref's Life: Much More To The Game Beyond Tipoff to Buzzer by Chris Colston, USA Today, November 18, 2008; A Ref's Life: Officials' Schedule Proves There Is Traveling In NBA by Chris Colston, USA Today, November 19, 2008; A Ref's Life: Critiques, Knowing Matchups All Part of The Job by Chris Colston, USA Today, November 20, 2008; A Ref's Life: Performance On Court Always Under Review by Chris Colston, USA Today, November 21, 2008.
PIAA Football Officials: A Bad Call: See Many With Criminal Pasts Found On PIAA's Roster Of Sports Referees by Bill Moushey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 14, 2008. It won't be long before Pennsylvania requires these guys to fingerprint since they clearly won't self-police. The good news - if good news it is - is that players, coaches and spectators are much more of a threat to the officials than the officials are to them. Still, it looks pretty bad to see the local convict officiating a game..
Torrington, CT - August 15, 2008 - Umpires Association Gives Award to Convicted Sex Offender ... Then They Reverse Their Bad Call. See Torrington Sex Offender Gets Community Award, NBC 30, Connecticut, August 15, 2008; Residents Outraged After Sex Offender Awarded, NBC 30, Connecticut, August 16, 2008; and Umpire Group Wants Award Back From Sex Offender, NBC 30, Connecticut, August 20, 2008. For national coverage see, Baseball Umpires In Connecticut Back Honor For Sex Offender, Associated Press, New York Daily News, August 16, 2008; Connecticut Umpires Group Rescinds Sex Offender's Award, San Francisco Examiner, August 19, 2008
LaFayette, LA - June 18, 2008 - Home-Plate Umpires Find Themselves In The Line of Fire by Paul White, USA Today. Foul balls, missed pitches lead to rash of concussions. Worse, sometimes it's on purpose. A catcher missed a pitch in a Georgia High School Game. Was it on purpose? Sure looks like it. The Georgia High School Association thought it was on purpose. They fined the school. The catcher lost his college scholarship - the college didn't want anybody who'd do this. Were they right? You can see the stills and the video by clicking on the June 18, 2008 Life of Reilly Column from ESPN The Magazine. Think this is the only time, think again: A California catcher told the ump what was coming! The catcher told the umpire he was gonna miss one. The ump took a fastball in his mask, ejected the catcher and the California Interscholastic Federation's North Coast Section did the right thing - a lifetime suspension! As of June 27, 2008, the catcher's appeal is pending.
June 2008 - National Conference of State Legislatures Shines The Light On Attacks Against Officials. See Cease-Fire On The Umpire! by Garry Boulard, State Legislatures Magazine (published by the National Conference of State Legislatures), June 2008 and Cease-Fire On The Umpire! Steven Ellinger Q and A On-line extra by Garry Boulard, State Legislatures Magazine (published by the National Conference of State Legislatures), June 2008.
Memphis, TN - September 14, 2007 - Thomas Will Become First Female Referee In Top Tier of College Football, ESPN.Com, Sept. 14, 2007 (Sarah Thomas was the first woman to work a Mississippi high school championship game and now she's the first woman to officiate a Division I-A College Football game).
New York, N.Y. - July 20, 2007 - FBI Investigates NBA Referee For Betting on Games. See FBI Probes Whether NBA Ref Bet On Games by Pat Milton, Washington Post, July 20, 2007;NBA In A 'Fix' by Murray Weiss, New York Post, July 20, 2007; FBI Probes Whether NBA Referee Bet on Games by Kevin Johnson, USA Today, July 20, 2007.
New York, N.Y. - May 2, 2007 - Study of N.B.A. Sees Racial Bias In Calling Fouls by Alan Schwarz, New York Times, May 2, 2007 page A1. Click here for the actual study on Referees and Racial Bias. It is quite predictable that the publicity generated by the NBA study will lead to more studies. Click here for the December 2007 study on baseball umpires and racial bias: Strike Three: Umpires' Demand For Discrimination by Christopher A. Parsons, Johan Sulaeman, Michael Yates and Daniel S. Hamermesh (aka The Hamermesh Report). Readers should note that there's only a 1% difference in calls. What does that mean? Well, Phil Birnbaum, a baseball sabremetrician, points out that it means that over 7,000 pitches tracked over three seasons, "the two groups of umpires are five pitches away from showing absolutely no racial bias." In short, there may not be any discrimination, but economists must publish - and publish they do. See Birnbaum's comments in Ron Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf, August 2007 (reviewing an earlier version of the Hamermesh report than the one I've linked to).
Albany, N.Y. - Dec. 13, 2005 - Court refuses to reverse official's call: unsportsmanlike conduct penalty decides state wrestling championship - another case of a loser on the field trying to go to court to avoid the consequences of his misconduct. The 2004-05 championship is finally resolved in New York just in time for the 2005-06 championship to be held.
Oklahoma - December 2005 - Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds Oklahoma QB's Suspension. Playoffs will resume. The Tucker Brown case was a classic case of a modern day athlete lacking the composure to comport himself in a sportsmanlike manner and then complaining and suing when he received his penalty. Brown got ejected from a playoff game for kicking an opponent. He then went to court and argued that the Oklahoma high school code's suspension language shouldn't apply to playoff games and that the officials weren't good so he had no choice except to kick the opponent. When all else fails, sue and blame the officials Read the Oklahoma Supreme Court's Opinion here.
Click here for earlier reports on this story.