Pink whistle officials file suit in Washington over stiff penalties

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Just when it seemed like the rancor between the pink whistle officials in Washington and their multiple associations was over, the men who refused to stop a heart-felt charity drive decided -- quite rightfully -- to stand up for their rights one more time.

Less than two weeks after being handed a harsh penalty that included a two-year probation and the loss of several future football playoff assignments, the Pacific Northwest Officials Association (that's the group that originally spurred the pink whistle/breast cancer fund raiser) filed suit against the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and Washington Officials Association in King County Superior Court on Thursday.

According to Seattle's KING 5 News, the officials' suit does not seek any monetary damages, but is striving to have the existing punishment against the PNOA revoked and all anticipated football playoff assignments returned.

Perhaps more strikingly, the organization is also seeking to receive autonomy from the WIAA and WOA, such is its disgust with the way its officials have been treated. The PNOA believes that its members were targeted for particularly harsh treatment because they chose to speak with the media about the penalty they received for using the pink whistles, a mark which they feel speaks to the WIAA and WOA's unwillingness to consider viewpoints beyond their dictatorial stances.

The lawsuit appears to be the last act in this four-part melodrama that played out in the Pacific Northwest, pitting the desire to raise funds for a charity in connection with the relatives of officials and the WOA's desire to maintain direct control over a subsidiary organization. The PNOA announced that it's pink whistle initiative in late October raised some $4,734 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, with all proceeds coming from game checks donated by officials who used the whistles.

The games that the WOA plans to hold the PNOA officials out of in coming seasons would almost certainly total more money than what was raised to combat breast cancer.

Whether or not this final Superior Court suit is successful is anyone's guess. After all, the WOA already backed off punishing the pink whistle officials once, only to bring punitive measures against them much later. The one thing that does seem certain is that regardless of court outcome, the PNOA will almost certainly have a majority of public opinion on its side, as it has throughout the months-long ordeal.

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