Bench Technical Foul
Often over the years, when asked to provide a perspective about sports officiating, I would make an analogy between what we do and what judges in court do. We each learn the rules, enforce them and do so in an impartial manner. This impartiality is an attribute we demand and greatly rely upon. I have immense respect for the men and women who serve as judges. It is because of them primarily that we live in relative comfort and safety under the rule of law. Without them, the laws are just ink on paper. Without sports officials, the rules of the game are just ink on paper.
Now, sadly, we have been confronted by a troubling and troublesome ruling by Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Piontek right here in Racine, Wis. Judge Piontek heard the plea for injunctive relief by the parents of a Waterford (Wis.) High School wrestler. During a match at the conference tournament, the veteran referee twice charged the wrestler with unsportsmanlike conduct. By the rules of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), he was prohibited from participating in his next meet. In this case, that next meet was the beginning of the state tournament. Missing that event meant the wrestler was out for the entire tournament. The athlete and his parents were outraged and when they learned the WIAA does not permit an appeal of a referee’s judgment call, decided to take legal action in hopes of being granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).