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Referees Punished for Wearing Pink Whistles to Support Breast Cancer

Here’s a new guideline that sports leagues should learn to follow: rules are rules unless you’re wearing something to raise cancer awareness. Why a group of referees would be punished for wearing pink whistles to raise awareness for breast cancer is beyond me.  Unfortunately, it happened in Washington.

According to MyNorthwest.com, one hundred forty-three Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association high school football referees were disciplined this week for wearing pink whistles last October in an effort to support breast cancer awareness.  PNFOA President Jeff Mattson said the officials also donated their game checks that day, which wasn’t an issue for the Washington Officials Association.  The pink whistles, however, were.

The refs were told not to wear the whistles but insisted there was no written rule that dictated their whistles should be a specific color, so they wore them anyway.  Since the state warned the officials not to wear the whistles and they did it anyway, they have had most of their playoff games revoked for the next two years and their organization will be placed on three-year probation.  WOA Commissioner Todd Stordahl said that if the refs do anything to violate probation during that time their organization will be decertified and all 143 will be out of jobs. Yes, really.

You would swear the refs were representing some sort of inner-city gang with the way they are being treated.  What kind of world do we live in that a group of people can’t take advantage of the fact that they have multiple eyes on them for a few hours and try to raise cancer awareness?  Regardless of the specific rules an organization may have in place, the entire situation is embarrassing. What’s even more sad is that it’s not the first time we’ve had issues over breast cancer-related sports equipment.

Photo Credit: KIRO Radio/Jeff Pohjola
Story Credit: Deadspin


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  • Gene

    I have no problem with the referees wearing pink whistles to support breast cancer awareness.  I only wish that they, and other groups, such as MLB, with the pink bats, would spend equal time on prostate cancer awareness.