The three officials who worked the Canisius College victory over Rider University Sunday need to get over themselves.
The crew ejected three fans from the Koessler Athletic Center during the Griffs' 67-61 victory. That's probably not a record. But I've been going to games for 45 years and I've never seen three fans booted in three separate incidents. (It says two fans were booted in today's Buffalo News game story, but this morning I learned a third was ejected.)
The first ejection came just as the first half ended. Griff forward Phil Valenti had been called for a debatable foul late in the half (it was a phantom call, if you ask me), which irked the fans.
Unbeknown to most fans, Valenti was called for a technical for saying something inappropriate as he walked to the locker room at halftime. Fine. Good job by the officials keeping him in line. Some fan was booted as the players walked off the court.
Rider opened the half by getting two free throws for the technical, which further stoked the fans' tempers. Just 1:30 into the half, the referees ejected a long-time Canisius season-ticket holder from the top row. It should be noted that official Jeffrey Anderson did warn a couple fans on that side of the court late in the first half that if they did not tone it down, he was going to boot someone. Ron Tyburski and Andrew Maira were the other members of the crew.
With 8:11 left in the game, the officials ejected Ed Baron, brother of the Canisius coach. Ed Baron, who is known in the KAC for his passionate support of the Griffs, was complaining from his seat a few rows behind the Canisius bench. When he got bounced, he got his money's worth, berating the refs as he walked to the exit.
Yes, the fans were irate. But there was nothing thrown on the court. I don't know about the first fan ejected, but there was not a surplus of profanity directed at the officials from the stands in the second half. There may have been a curse word uttered, but it was not an obnoxious string of obscenities.
There were only 792 fans in the arena. Maybe the officials were better able to hear the fan tirades than usual. But Division I athletics is supposed to be entertainment. Fans pay to attend. Cheering for your team and arguing calls is part of the game. The officials are not the show. They should not have rabbit ears. Good for the loyal Griff fans for showing their passion.
Jim Baron didn't want to touch the subject after the game. However, upon being pressed, he said:
"People are into the game. What do you expect? . . . You go to other places, they're screaming at me, they're cursing at me. . . . It's a game, what do you expect? Go to a tennis match where you can be quiet. Go to a golf tournament. It's a basketball game."