In what may have been the most ridiculous punishment in the history of ridiculous punishments, a group of Washington state high school football officials were placed on two years probation and had game checks docked for wearing pink whistles as part of a campaign to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The pink whistles were the visual part of the drive, and officials donated game checks to the tune of $4,734 over the course of a few weeks in October. It should've been a feel-good moment and an example of a positive contribution to society.
And then the WIAA and Washington Officials Association stepped in to punish the officials for failing to conform to uniform standards and ignoring direct orders from organization leaders. This week, the Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association filed suit to get the punishment overturned, but there's a bit more to the story (via Chris Daniels at King 5)
The suit also alleges the PNFOA was punished for speaking to the media about the controversy. It not only seeks to have the punishment rescinded, but also allow the PNFOA to break off as a separate organization with full authority to referee games. Currently, it is governed by the WOA and WIAA.
I'm all for reversing the punishment, but this is an interesting development. It sounds as though the bad publicity generated by the WIAA and WOA is being used to change the structure of football officiating in the state. While there's no direct mention of it, the PNFOA seems to be striking at a perfect time in an effort to break away.
At any rate, the initial punishment was terrible, both from a public relations and common sense standpoint. The officials were raising money for an excellent cause. Does wearing pink whistles to raise awareness for breast cancer somehow harm the integrity of the game? If the answer is no, it should be overlooked.