As current or former officials, Referee editors can empathize with comrades who encounter difficult situations. Such was the case when a high school football crew in Cincinnati put player safety ahead of political correctness and was lampooned nationally for its efforts.
The crew did not allow Colonel White High School’s Bobby Martin, who was born without legs, to take the field. Martin caught the crew off guard and appeared in one play in the first half. But during halftime, the crew determined that Martin would not be allowed to play because he could not wear equipment required by the rules, and that any contact Martin made with an opponent other than a ball carrier would naturally be below the waist, which is a foul.
What the crew did not know was that Martin had played in the first three games of the season and had also been playing regularly in junior varsity games. Because Colonel White was located in Dayton, some 60 miles away, no one on the crew had ever seen Martin or heard anything about him. Additionally, in the pregame meeting with the officials, the coach never mentioned the unusual circumstance of a legless player. In the wake of the incident, the Ohio High School Athletic Association took the school to task for failing to inform the governing body but did rule that Martin could play in subsequent games.