Pink Whistles and Call To Action Request


May 18, 2011 by esarsea

A Washington State high school football referee wears a pink whistle to help promote breast cancer awareness last fall. (KIRO Radio/Jeff Pohjola)

Jeff Pohjola, KIRO 97.3 FM, has reported on that one hundred and fourty-three high school football referees have been severely disciplined by the Washington Officials Association; having the majority of their playoff games revoked for the next two years, loss of pay for those games, and being placed on probation for the next three years.

What did these officials do to warrant such a penalty? Last Fall, for one week, the officials wore pink whistles to help support breast cancer awareness, and donated their game checks to Susan G. Koman for the Cure.

It is the position of the Washington Officials Association that the pink whistles were a violation of the Uniform Code. So instead of admonishing the officials, or perhaps issuing written reprimands with a warning that future violations of the Uniform Code could result in more severe disciplinary action, the WOA has summarily taken away 2 years worth of playoff games from the officials – and the related compensation the officials would have received.

Todd Storhahl, WOA Commissioner has been quoted as saying, “They chose not to ask for permission, not to go the right route. It sends the wrong message to kids that are playing the game.”

News of the delayed disciplinary action just came to light this week.

Well Todd, you’re right – this has sent a message to the kids playing the game. I’m not sure it’s the right message, but it has been sent. From this blogger’s perspective, the message is that the Washington Officials Association and its, “Uniform Code” are more important that raising awareness for breast cancer. You could have easily taken a formal stand in regards to your position on following the rules with lesser penalties.

Frankly, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

On behalf of my blogging partners here on the BS BLOG I would like to enlist the assistance of our visitors. Please click the “Share” button below this post and email this to your friends and family – and ask those who receive it to pass it on as well. Post to Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit. If you have a WordPress blog, use the “Press This” feature to post a link back here.

HERE IS A LINK TO THE WASHINGTON OFFICIALS ASSOCIATION WEBSITE AND THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION PAGE. On this page are email addresses for the WOA President, Vice President, Executive Board Members, Members At Large, and WOA Staff including the WOA Commissioner, and the WOA Director of Operations.

Please send them an email and let them know what you think. If enough of us follow through, maybe they will get our message.

Thank you.


13 thoughts on “Pink Whistles and Call To Action Request

  1. esarsea says:

    Interesting…in the past few hours the WOA has pulled the email addresses for everyone on their contact page except for the Commissioner, and the Director of Operations. Well, that narrows the target quite nicely.

    Guess maybe we should start ringing their phones next.

  2. esarsea says:

    5/20 Update: 2 of the people who followed through and emailed the WOA sent me copies of the emails they sent, and the responses they received.

    The responses were sent by Dean Corcoran, Vice President of the Washington Officials Association and read as follows:

    “I understand your concern and even outrage at what you have read. If it were all true, I would be outraged too. Unfortunately, the story propagated by the media is incorrect in many ways. When something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Likewise, when it seems that reasonable people are doing something very unreasonable, then you probably aren’t getting the whole story. That is certainly the case here. The decision to discipline one of our member organizations was not made by one person. It was made by the Executive Board of Directors made up of 16 members representing all sports and all areas of the state of Washington. The decision was not made lightly and came after months of investigation and consideration of all the facts in the case. The particulars of this case have not made it to the media and nor should they. The individuals responsible for the media reports are using a sensitive and extremely sympathetic issue to get a reaction and divert attention from the real issues. I can guarantee that the Washington Officials Association, its Board of Directors, and its commissioner all support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and many other worthy causes.”

    Both emails were 100% identical, right down to the letter and spacing between sentences – indicating they were copy-and-paste responses.

    I sent the following email to Mr. Corcoran after receiving copies of the identical responses:

    “Good Morning Mr. Corcoran

    I am an amateur blogger who posted one of many articles that have been published about the whole pink whistle controversy. In the interest of fairness I wanted to extend you and the WOA the opportunity to clarify and defend your position over and above the identical, copy/paste emails that have been sent in response to people’s emails to your office. I would welcome the opportunity to give you equal time on my blog. Perhaps if you shared how the media is propagating an incorrect story, diverting attention from the real issues, and more importantly what those real issues are, you could correct the public’s misperceptions and put this whole issue in the past?

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Best Regards,


    I’ll let you know if I get a response.

  3. Bill says:

    Interesting. Forgive me if you know someone who has fought breast cancer (Stu), but I’ve become a bit of a critic about pink-themed Breast Cancer awareness campaigns. I also think the draconian heavy-handedness of the WOA is over the top. A warning would have been better, but at some point, they decided to make examples of these guys. When an NFL player scored a touchdown and pulled out a cell phone from his socks and called his mother, they landed on him to control the behavior of players overall. I kind of see that for high school sports, where a ref’s credibility in making calls is judge-like.

    My thing on pink campaigns is not popular, but a natural evolution of seeing corporations marketing pink-ribboned products to sell product, with a tiny portion going to the Susan Komen cure campaign. If they gave a shit, they would just cut a check to the cure. I’m AWARE OF BREAST CANCER NOW! Can we just work on a cure and stop marketing pink shit to sell? What’s really kind of disturbing about these campaigns begs a question: What about lung cancer awareness? When’s the last time you saw a product on the shelves that was labeled to make consumers aware of lung cancer? Never? That’s about right. But we are all Super-Aware of breast cancer, aren’t we?

    Ok, class, finally, what’s the Number One Cancer Killer of Women in America? Say it together now: Lung Cancer! What? Lung Cancer! What’s that? Lung Cancer! Nope, it’s not registering, I’m not AWARE! Lung Cancer! Ok, I’ve got to go Wiki that! Lung Cancer! Is it actually in your lungs? Lung Cancer! I can’t process that because I’m not aware, I don’t have a brown and black and red wrist band! Lung Cancer! I’ll take your word for it! Now, where did I put that pink can of Campbell’s soup? I can relate to that!

    I’ll leave you with this: “More people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. This is true for both men and women. The most recent statistics show that in 2005 lung cancer accounted for more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer combined. In that year, more than 90 thousand men and 69 thousand women died from this terrible disease.”

    (actually proofed and edited on Saturday. sorry)

    • Stu says:

      I’m not in complete disagreement with you Bill. I guess the potential exists that too many breast cancer awareness campaigns could become counter-productive. That whole stimulus-flooding/psychological numbing thing. We see so many tributes, campaigns, pink ribbons, t-shirts, etc that people might start assuming that breast cancer already getting enough support and funding. Maybe? I dunno…

      But as you know that wasn’t my rant, but rather the severity of the disciplinary action in light of the offense.

      However, going back and reading old news stories on the internet (this has been brewing since last October), it sounds like the officials may have approached the WOA with this pink whistle idea and were told to hold off, but went ahead and did it anyway. Open defiance always warrants more severe penalties than simply, “not asking permission.” If that’s the case, I can see where the WOA is coming from.

      It will be interesting if I get a response from my email to Mr. Corcoran.

  4. Becky says:

    Thank you, Bill! I’m so tired of the “ribbon” trend in general. Ribbons to show your awareness or support of nearly anything. Definitely nauseating, and I always wonder what these ribbon-displaying people really do to make any change for their causes. (I’m also annoyed by the recent trend of stick figure families on the rear windows of vehicles)

    Wis. recently passed a bill to outlaw smoking in all taverns and restaurants. Now that’s some real action.

    The refs were doing something noble by donating paychecks, and the disciplinary action is ridiculous, if indeed it is true. It would be nice to know what the “real issues” were.

    • Stu says:

      Stick family figures on minivans!!! LOLOL they are everywhere here. Like the “baby on board” signs back were in the (80’s? 90’s?). I agree, they are lame.

  5. Bill says:

    What are the stick figues on the windows doing? If it’s positions from the Kama Sutra, I want a set!

  6. Becky says:

    I’m a mom who drives my kids and their friends around in a mini-van, and I teach preschool, but cutsie “feel good” stuff–not me! Do I care how many kids and pets you have, what sports they are in, or whether they are honor students? If you have a “Recall Walker” bumper sticker, then I think you’re probably cool.

  7. Da Goddess says:

    My favorite are the stick figure families with the names of all the kids spelled out…right above the stickers that proclaim “My Child was Student of the Month at PEDOPHILES: PLEASE GO TO THIS SCHOOL AND CALL MY CHILD’S NAME”…cuz, really, that’s what all that amounts to.

    As for pink whistles, ridiculous. Sounds a little like someone got their knickers in a twist because they weren’t invited to the party.

  8. […] something that isn’t silly. Okay, it’s kind of silly in that someone has their hide all chapped over something that is a positive thing and has turned it into a major news story. I don’t understand how […]

  9. esarsea says:

    Thought I’d resurrect this thread for a couple reasons. Firstly, October is breast cancer awareness month, and secondly because my wife has been diagnosed with lobular breast cancer.

    As opposed to the more common ductal breast cancer, lobular breast cancer only occurs (statistically speaking) in 1 of 10 cases. It’s problematic not only for the obvious reasons, but because it’s hard to detect.

    Ductal breast cancer typically causes lumps that can be felt, and calcifications that result from blocked ducts which can be seen on mammograms and/or ultrasounds. Lobular breast cancer usually isn’t detectable by mammogram or ultrasound, but is sometimes detectable by MRI. In our case we were fortunate enough to have a persistent physician insist on a biopsy of a suspicious area noticed on MRI, and pathology determined it to be malignant.

    The margins of the excised tissue were found to be positive as well, meaning the cancer extends beyond the edges of the area removed during biopsy.

    Up until now I thought we possessed adequate “Breast Cancer Awareness” but in reality we did not. My wife has a stack of “No cancer detected” mammogram result reports, including one from only a few months back…but those aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

    The past month has been filled with meetings with Oncologists and surgeons, and a BRCA test.

    BRCA tests are interesting. It’s a blood test that checks for mutations of the BRCA I and II gene. The presence of these mutations increase the likelihood of breast cancer (or the recurrence of breast cancer – and ovarian cancer) from something like a rate 12 out of every 1000 women to 600 out of 1000 women.

    So while the effectiveness of the “Pink Ribbon” campaigns may be open to discussion, it none the less has become my avatar on Facebook.

    Our journey is just beginning…

    • Jane says:

      Thanks for the post Stu. I am so sorry to hear about this but am glad you shared. I also have just learned a bit I did not know of. Keep us posted if it helps and I am also interested to know what you learn. Either way I will be sending my best vibes.

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