It's never a good look for any fan to be thrown of a high school wrestling tournament, worse when you're the mayor of the host town and even more embarrassing when said town shares the same name as the believed birthplace of Jesus Christ.
None of that stopped Bethlehem, Pa., Mayor John Callahan from vociferously questioning a wrestling referee's stalling call in front of roughly 1,000 fans gathered for the Class AAA district championships at Liberty High, according to The Express-Times in Lehigh Valley.
The second-term Bethlehem mayor, who ran a failed congressional campaign in 2010 and currently seeks a soon-to-be vacant Northampton County Executive seat, proceeded to call the referee in question out for having "rabbit ears" as he exited the gymnasium wiggling his fingers on either side of his head, according to the report.
He then took to Twitter in attempt to explain his side of the story.
Certainly did not mean to offend tonightPretty sad when a wrestling fan can't express displeasure about a call. Talk about rabbit ears
— John B. Callahan (@John_Callahan) February 24, 2013
But the director of officials for the tournament isn't buying Callahan's version. Gene Waas told the paper he supported referee Dennis Buchman's decision to eject Callahan.
"Remember to Dennis, this is just a fan or a parent acting inappropriately, not the mayor of Bethlehem," said Waas. "Every (official) has a different tolerance for what they'll take, and it's up to the official. When (Callahan) was yelling and screaming, Dennis had a right to do it. He was ejecting a fan who was acting inappropriately, not ejecting the mayor."
You might think these are the actions of an overzealous father, but Callahan's son had already wrestled to a fourth-place finish in the 195-pound weight division for Freedom (Bethlehem, Pa.) High. The ejection occurred during the 220-pound title match between Freedom senior Evan Kauffman and Liberty junior Jake Gunning. To make matters worse for Callahan, his rooting interest eventually came out on top anyway, 5-4.
"One good thing about John Callahan," Waas told The Express-Times. "Everybody likes basketball, everybody likes football, but only wrestling people like wrestling. I am glad to see the mayor of Bethlehem likes wrestling. But he acted inappropriately as a fan."
I'm sure you're shocked -- shocked! -- an elected official may have acted inappropriately. And you may also be surprised that this isn't the first time a parent has been escorted out of a sporting event for blaming officials when things don't go so well for his child's team.
Less than two weeks ago, a similar incident occurred involving Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard, who was ejected from a game involving his son at Gilbert (Iowa) High. Only Pollard apologized and didn't publicly call out the ref for having rabbit ears.
- Sports & Recreation