After the Tigers' 7-6 win over Clinton, Koons said the officials were cheaters and had blantantly cheated Tuttle. The governing body of high school athletics, the OSSAA, gave Koons the choice of being suspended or suspending himself. He chose to suspend himself -- probably knowing the OSSAA would screw it up if he let them do it.
This got me to thinking: Have I ever seen an official cheat? No. I don't believe I have. I truly believe game officials are above-board. I believe they are impartial and set out to do the very best job they can, and I believe the good ones -- and yes, there are many very good ones -- deserve a lot of credit and praise, even if the call doesn't go my team's way. I've known a lot of officials, and the thought of officials cheating never crosses my mind.
Having said that, here's what I have seen: I've seen officiating crews that were so bad, you almost hoped they were cheating. At least then there would be some reason for their ineptitude. I was at a Rush Springs football game several years ago and watched an officiating crew take 10 minutes -- literally -- to spot the ball. The officials had blown two calls on one play and couldn't figure out where to place the ball after incorrectly marking off their own penalties. People were about to start coming out of the stands -- not because they were mad, but because they were afraid the officials wouldn't restart the game before sun up. Breakfast, you know, is the most important meal of the day.
Two years later. Newcastle at Kingfisher. Same officiating crew. I counted five missed calls in the first half, and I'm not talking about close calls either. Two of the calls led to Kingfisher touchdowns. And guess who just so happened to be on the sideline? Me. I know one of the officials. He happens to be the side judge, which means he has to stand close to the sideline. So, later in the game, when he's standing right in front of me and there's a break in the action, I explained one of the plays and asked what happened.
He remember the play. "I couldn't see it," he said.
"Now that I believe," I said.
He didn't ask for my suspension (though he did ask my opinion of several other calls he feared they had blown), but then again, I'm not a coach. I'm a journalist. We're allowed to question sports officials, and we understand there's a difference between questioning the abilities and motives of a sports official and outing a CIA agent. Some people don't.