NBA referee scandal shouldn#8217;t affect local officials

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

It’s not uncommon that game officials are accused by over-zealous fans of intentionally making calls to help the other team.

The recent report of former NBA official Tim Donaghy accepting money to intentionally alter the outcome of games has damaged the reputation of many honest officials.

Donaghy said he will cooperate with FBI officials on allegations he accepted money to alter the outcome of games.

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Several officials from the Ironton high school officiating chapter are saddened by the report, but all agreed that payoffs at their level don’t exist, nor are they feasible.

Chuck Delawder, secretary-treasurer of football officials, said the idea of an official throwing a game was never a topic of concern.

“I’m sure what happened will filter down our way, but as an official, I never really thought about it,” said Delawder. “In sports, things happen so fast, I never think about it.”

Delawder said he recalls a high school baseball game when there was a close play at home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied.

“If I call him safe, we go home. But I thought the runner was out and I called him out and we kept playing,” said Delawder.

Reports said Donaghy had a gambling problem and was approached by mob associates. Anyone accepting a job with the NBA as an official must agree to open their financial accounts to the league.

“That’s their livelihood. We do it for the love of the game, the camaraderie, the working with the kids. We’re not getting rich,” said Delawder.

Ivan Hanshaw, secretary of the Ironton chapter and a 26-year veteran, said the real difference in officiating is the ability and work ethic of the officials.

“I’ve always told people there are some officials who are better than others. I don’t think at our level they ever cheat. There’s no money to win,” said Hanshaw.

“Some work harder to be better. I think some people see this and think officials throw games.”

Hanshaw believes the biggest backlash for officials will be at the college and pro levels where there is so much money for players, coaches, and, yes, gamblers.

“It will only hurt the college and pro ranks. At the high school level you have nothing to gain,” said Hanshaw.

“I remember one time I went to call a game and as I walked in a lady asked me if I wanted to take a chance on guessing the final score of the game. I said, ‘Honey, I can’t guess the score. I’m one of the officials.”

Bernie Hensley, the secretary-treasurer of the baseball and softball officials, said he hoped that if Donaghy is guilty that he tells the whole story and informs authorities of any other officials — if any — are involved.

“Basketball would be the easiest sport to shave points. It’s hard to do in football because the scoring opportunities aren’t as numerous,” said Hensley.

“I like the integrity of high school sports. All the officials I know are forthright and honest.”

Hensley has officiated four different high school sports including football for 28 years, basketball for 26, and baseball and softball for 23 years. He doesn’t see the scandal damaging the high school level.

“I don’t think it will effect anything on the high school level. I would hope it wouldn’t trickle down for the integrity of the officials. I hope it’s an isolated case,” Hensley said.