Days after officials in Washington openly disobeyed an edict from the Washington Officials Association not to use pink charity whistles, the leader of the WOA is now saying that no individual officials will be punished for using the whistles, an about-face on comments he offered last Thursday.
According to KING-5 and the Seattle Times, WOA commissioner Todd Stordahl now claims that he never intended to penalize individual referees, though he has not ruled out the possibility of some sort of sanction against the Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association, which organized the use of pink whistles in last week's football games.
"The WOA did not have nor continues to have any intention to fine, take away games or deny pay checks to any member due to wearing a pink whistle," Stordahl said in a message posted Monday on the WOA website. That message goes on to stipulate that any decision from the WOA commissioner himself is also subject to appeal by any member boards or associations, a process which seems likely for the PNFOA.
The online message comes after a weekend in which 144 Washington officials used pink whistles in games from which they donated all referee proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The pink whistles were meant as a symbolic gesture, but Stordahl ruled that they violated the WOA uniform code. The commissioner announced last Thursday, after the first group of Washington officials had used the pink whistles in a game, that any official who violated the uniform code without first seeking a uniform exception could be suspended for two future playoff games, a disciplinary action that would have cost those officials two game checks.
It's now certain that will not be the case as Stordahl continues to try and ease tensions from an incident he told the Seattle Times was, "blown so far out of proportion."
"The last thing we want is to be at odds with each other," Stordahl told the Times.
After Prep Rally wrote about Stordahl's original comments last week, a number of readers emailed letters protesting the proposed suspension of officials to Stordahl, cc'ing Prep Rally in the process. Considering the fact that we at Prep Rally only saw letters on which we were copied -- and considering the media spread of the story, which was featured in news outlets across the country -- it's fair to assume he received far more disparaging emails about the incident than just those that we saw.
Whether that accounts for the organization's steps away from sanctions against individual officials or not is impossible to know. What is now certain is that officials who used pink whistles as a measure of charitable respect are now safe from any fines.