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Letters for Nov. 22

Officials motivated by a job well done

The recent news article in the Buffalo News and reported on the local news stations concerning biased officiating in a local high school football playoff game was quite disturbing. First of all, I have been a local high school official for over 25 years in various sports.

Through all these years and in all these games, I have officiated with hundreds of different officials. So I have a vast experience officiating various sports at all levels in the City of Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs.

We as officials put in an availability sheet in the beginning of each season and then we are randomly assigned games. We have no input who we officiate. We are assigned partners and we meet at game sites and officiate.

Never in 25 years has race ever been discussed prior to a game that I have been associated with. I have had city teams playing suburban teams and the race and makeup of these teams has never once been brought up before any of these contests.

The other factor that makes it hard to believe biased officiating took place was because it was a playoff game. Officials in all sports are graded. You are non-rated if you are new, next you move up to JV games then eventually you are promoted to do varsity games. As the season ends the top officials are pooled and then assigned games randomly. As the playoffs progress only the top rated officials in each sport move on.

Officials also disqualify themselves if they have family or friends playing at a school so there is no conflict of interest. No official that I know would embarrass or jeopardize himself or his fellow officials by making biased calls intentionally in any game, especially a championship game with hundreds of spectators and a television audience.

The final point I would like to make: Even at the professional level, officials sometimes miss calls or make incorrect interruptions concerning plays in games. We usually hope for a competitive game and try to officiate a game where we as officials are not even noticed. Hopefully this controversy will be resolved for all concerned.

Phil Ryan

West Seneca

When will the tables take an apt turn?

I have been involved in football my whole life as a player, coach, and fan. And I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone blame the referees for a loss. Yet curiously I’ve never witnessed anyone crediting the refs for a win. Just once I’d like to hear the victors cry, “We won because of the refs!”

Paul McCarthy

East Amherst

Games are comprised of a multitude of plays

As a 40-year high school and college basketball official I brace every year for the abuse from parents and spectators. I’d like to share some thoughts with them.

We really don’t care which team wins the game. We want to see everyone play by the rules and have an equal chance. We don’t have any preconceived notions that we’ll favor the team that pays fastest or has the cutest moms.

We all attend multiple clinics, rules interpretation sessions and have to pass a written test every year. In some smaller gyms we get boxed out and can’t see what you can see from Row 12. We all try to get every play right every time.

Before you unleash your invective upon us you might ask ... if my team misses 40 shots, has 20 turnovers and misses 15 free throws, has that one or two calls I disagreed with the ref on, really cost my team the game?

Whitey Nichols


Bennett fell victim to geographic bias

Last week my wife and I attended the Section VI Class C championship football game at the Ralph. I have witnessed far more high school football games than the average person, always trying to keep things in proper perspective. However, I have never came home from a game and literally got sick to my stomach over the game, as happened to me last week.

The Bennett vs Maple Grove/Lake Chautauqua Lake football game was the most one-sided, poorly officiated games I ever witnessed. There was part of the officiating crew that was determined that Bennett was not going to leave the Ralph with a victory. The continual one-sided calls throughout the game made the outcome a travesty. What an injustice to both schools, Bennett for being denied advancement to the next level of competition, and Maple Grove, a hustling well-coached team, to go on knowing the better team did not win that game.

As a former high school basketball and football coach, I witnessed a basketball official travel back to Bemus Point after a game on the Maple Grove team bus. This game conjured up a lot of bad memories. I don’t understand how some people can sleep at night.

Larry Veronica


Time for ‘Buffalo’ to come back home

Now that Danny White is on to bigger and better things – how soon can the University at Buffalo revert to the original UB Logo and the original UB Bull – to go back on the UB basketball court, back on the UB football field and back on all of those UB team uniforms that say State University of New York (at Buffalo)?

Not soon enough.

Barbara Hubbell


Shedding no tears over White’s departure

Our athletic director, Danny White is finally leaving the University at Buffalo. And what a surprise he is joining the University of Central Florida. Do you think his career resumes of stints at the University of Mississippi, Ohio University and Northern Illinois led him to the “New York Bulls Initiative”?

He seems to have a real hang up that state school names define his importance and authority, so thankfully Central Florida can take him off our hands.

To his credit, he made some great hires, but he also fired Jeff Quinn and seven other excellent coaches in several sports programs at UB, and his style of reorganization left many questions of his true ability.

We all knew his stop here was just a stepping stone to somewhere else. I just wish he wouldn’t have riled the many loyal alumni, who mostly saw through his “Initiative,” as a true slam against our Buffalo identity, solely for his own personal gain.

Yes, Danny; we are sorry to see you go, and we wish you well; but don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

James R. Ahrens


Send comments to Sports Talk, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240. Letters may also be sent via fax to 856-5150 or emailed to Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing. Include name, hometown and a phone number for verification.