You know what I didn’t blog about this fall?

The attack on the HS football ref outside San Antonio.

Here are my tardy reactions.

1. The players who attacked the referee insist that the official used racial slurs. If I am to believe that, than I am to believe that he had put together a 14-year officiating career in a racially diverse part of the state with literally zero complaints (from players, partners, coaches, and parents) before suddenly going bonkers that night. That stretches common sense to the point of breaking.

2. The kids threw their assistant coach under the bus with an “I was only doing what I was told” defense. Strangely, this makes me -less- likely to believe that the coach was in on it. There’s a ton of desperation here. But I still suspect he was behind it.

3. I am especially troubled that the students continue to bring up missed calls as a reason they were mad. This, to me, makes it far less likely that the officials used racial slurs. If I were a player or coach (or, more realistically, a crewmate) and an official used a racial slur, I would be so angry about that that I would instantly forget every missed call he/she made. The pettiness of discussing perceived missed calls in the face of something as horrific as racial slurs tells me that the racial slurs never happened.

4. I believe in forgiveness, especially for kids who do dumb things. I don’t know how forgiving I would be if I were the official in this situation, however. He could have been paralyzed or killed. (Remember: two soccer officials were killed by players during matches in the past two years: Ricardo Portillo in Utah–punched dead by a 17-year-old–and John Bieniwicz in Michigan, punched dead by an adult). So I want these kids to be able to recover from this, but they need significant punishment first. This is too serious to just say “oh, stupid kid did a stupid thing.”

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About Paul Hamann
I am a basketball referee in Washington State, working mostly high school games.

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