Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thumbs up to Topeka HS officials

A female official was turned away from boys' game at a school in Kansas because the religious school believes that women should not be put in a position of authority over men.

I'm impressed with Michelle Campbell's restraint in the article, love that her male partner refused to work the game without her, and even that the guy who had officiated earlier junior high games refused to do the games when he was flagged down as he left the gym. And her association is completely backing her. The refs come off looking really good here.

Philosophical question: If the school has a legitimate religious belief that "women should not be in a position of authority over men," and they asked only to have male officials for boys' games, should the association honor that request? I'm leaning towards no, but am willing to hear arguments on both sides.

12 Comments:

At 1:50 PM, Blogger tommyspoon said...

Yes, I think that's a reasonable request. It's not like the association can't accommodate this particular school. I would suggest that the school in question should do something in recompense for such a request: kicking in more $ or perhaps even cultivating their own officials. I'm not sure what would be appropriate here.

This is one of those, "You're a guest in someone's home" situations. I have sat down at a dinner table and said grace with my Christian friends even though I'm not religious. I think the association can and should honor the request.

Wow... I never thought I'd be on this side of the street!

OTOH, this school seems to have pulled a bait and switch on the association. If that's the case, and their policy of no female officials was never properly communicated to the association, then the school should be booted from the association immediately.

If they want to live in the 14th century, that's their business. But they can't impose those values upon unsuspecting outsiders.

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Abso-freaking-lutely not. The school isn't a guest, it's a member. If they have problem with the group rules, they should form their own league.

Tom, you're right. They can't impose their rules on others - including the kids who come to compete against them.

(Regarding the duties of guests in sporting events, finish this sentence: "Jim Brown, born ineligible...")

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger tommyspoon said...

No, the school is not a guest. But the officials and the visiting team are. I totally agree that they cannot impose their values when they are the visiting team. But I do think they have the right to conduct themselves as they wish on their home turf.

If the officials and other schools don't want to accommodate their wishes, that is their right. But I think that excluding them outright is a mistake. The same mistake, I might add, that was visited upon Jim Brown.

 
At 5:47 PM, Blogger Joe said...

I re-read it, and Tom, you're right! St. Mary's isn't a full association member; they're just an approved school which association members may compete against. So the guest analogy is actually right in this limited case.

And frankly, as hosts, I think it's appropriate that they should have to provide refs they approve of. The association should refuse to schedule them (and any man with a shred of respect for his colleagues should refuse the work). That's not exclusion, it's the predictable outcome of a choice.

I still have a serious problem with the idea of the home team getting to pick the refs, though. It looks like an opening to favoritism, and that's the death of legitimate authority.

So should the Cleveland Browns, guests in George Marshall's home, have benched Jim Brown so as not to offend poor Mr. Marshall's delicate sensibilities?

 
At 7:24 PM, Blogger BloggingRef said...

In both associations I have been a part of, the home team has not gotten to pick the officials (for which I am fervently thankful). They pay into the officials' association, and the association assigns and pays the refs. There are some parts of ref-dom where the school AD contracts and pays the refs directly. That'd suck.

It appears that Topeka is NOT one of those associations, as they obviously are not picking their refs (or Ms. Campbell never would have showed up).

But can they say to the association "send whoever you want, but no women, please, it's troublesome to us religiously"?

We do bend rules for religious beliefs (setting aside the "no headwear" rule, for instance, for people whose religions call for them to wear yarmulkes or headscarves). Should this be one of the cases where Topeka, in the name of religious tolerance, bends a rule and only sends male refs?

I think I'm on Joe's side. I'd rather not be the association that bends to sexism, even if it's religiously-based. I'd hate to work there knowing that a female colleague could not.

But I'm a little bit uneasy about it, and might still be able to be convinced the other direction.

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger BloggingRef said...

"they are obviously not picking their own refs"

should be

"schools are obviously not picking their own refs"

above. Damn those unclear antecedents...

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger tommyspoon said...

Let me be clear: I think this sucks. But I think the solution of booting this school out of the association sucks just as bad. I have a feeling that this school pulled a bait and switch, and therefore should be booted. But I think some deft politicking would solve this situation for all concerned.

>> So should the Cleveland Browns, guests in George Marshall's home, have benched Jim Brown so as not to offend poor Mr. Marshall's delicate sensibilities?

No. But I don't think that analogy works quite the way you want it to. ;-) If Jim Brown played for another team that visited Cleveland, and George got the vapors about it and wanted him benched, then your analogy would be perfect!

 
At 10:31 PM, Anonymous swankette said...

As tommyspoon says, it's the school's right to be a bunch of bigots.

However, if I understand the workings of the system correctly, the school hires the association to provide refs for the games. So it would be the association's right to refuse to be hired by that school ("We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"), since the school is making what might be considered unreasonable demands on the association.

So the association should refuse the business of the school, and make them find their own officials.

Visiting teams would then have the right to say they aren't playing that team, and where would that leave St. Mary's basketball team?

And does this school make these same demands when THEY are the visiting team?

From living with a ref, I know how challenging it can be for the associations to fill their schedules using ALL of the officials they have available. To exclude certain members of the association from certain games for the sole reason that they are female places an undue burden on the system, and would potentially penalize ALL members of the association, in order to juggle schedules to accommodate more legitimate reasons someone cannot ref a game - such as inability to make it to the game on time due to travel issues, and conflicts of interest (say if the ref teaches at one of the participating schools).

So yes, the school has the right to make the request. And suffer the resulting consequences.

 
At 10:51 PM, Blogger BloggingRef said...

I like the Jim Brown metaphor, but it might be more helpful to compare apples to apples.

What if the Washington Racial Epithets NFL Squad, in its pre-integration days, decided it didn't want an African-American official to do their games at RFK? Wouldn't it be within the rights of the NFL to tell them to stick it?

And if so, what's the difference between this situation and the one involving St. Mary's?

For the record, the Epithets integrated in 1962, three years before Burl Toler became the first African-American NFL official. Kind of disappointing that the NFL would be behind the times like that. Looks like MLB was similar...Emmett Ashford became the first black umpre 7 years after the Red Sox became the last team to integrate, and Jackie White became the first NBA official about 12 years after the last NBA team integrated. Hmmm...this might have to be its own post...

 
At 4:49 AM, Blogger tommyspoon said...

Nice bit of history, BR. Nice to know that the NFL, albeit unseemly late, was a bit more ahead of the curve then baseball or basketball.

 
At 6:27 AM, Blogger BloggingRef said...

Thanks, Spoon. Are you answering the hypothetical? Would George Marshall have had the right to veto a black ref? And is that situation different from that at St. Mary's?

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger tommyspoon said...

I wasn't but I will: My gut feeling is that George Marshall probably wouldn't have been able to do that even if he wanted to, even in the bad old days of the 1960s. But I'd have to know a whole lot more about how NFL officials operated back then in order to answer the question. I'm not sure that the other owners would have sat back and let Marshall push the officials around like that, even for racist reasons that they may have shared. (Marshall wasn't that popular among the owners, anyway. Hence my gut feeling.)

I can just picture him chomping on his cheap cigar and muttering something about "f-ing n*****s" in his luxury box.

 

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