Briefly, When Accessible History Matters


Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    From this? Not, I very much doubt they will learn a lesson.Report

    • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

      In the organization’s defense, Maloney has already been suspended, although by now the damage is already done, and everybody who saw something like this coming has been entirely vindicated.

      However, it is good to see that, at least for now, the voices of those anxious to defend Maloney are being drowned out by people who recognize Johnson’s humanity, and what a galling thing it is to be treated as he was.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    People with power using an interpretation of ‘the rules’ to exercise their bias/bigotry is nothing new, nor is the fact that others will defend ‘the rules’, and those exercising them, over people whenever ‘the rules’ might be threatened.

    The fact that the interpretation was used to further racism is just some extra ugly to add to that cake.

    Hell, your last post had a good chunk of this as well.

    The thing is, we like our rules to have wiggle room in them, and only get pissed when they are bent in ways we don’t like (but are otherwise fine with them getting bent in ways we do like).Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Ron Roberts explained that although Johnson was wearing a cap, it may not have been properly attached to his headgear, a new rule which was being unevenly enforced throughout the sport and the state.

    I’m peripherally involved with enforcement of equipment rules for a state-wide sports organization. If this statement is true, and Maloney was enforcing the current rule, I am a good deal more sympathetic to his situation. I have been in the position of telling a high-school kid, “You can’t compete, your gear doesn’t conform to the rules.” Also telling their parents and coach to not tell me that the kid was allowed to compete with it last week, because I’m required to report that, and the follow-on repercussions may be worse for the kid than not competing today.

    We wish that all of our officials took the time to explain every equipment rules violation and laid out all of the options for the competitors. But there’s always time pressure, and the equivalent of a brusque “Your hair’s too long, your cap’s not in spec, fix one of them in the next five minutes or you’re disqualified for not being ready,” is sometimes what happens.Report

    • @michael-cain Perhaps it is reading too much into things, but the state board’s apparent refusal to immediately say, “Alan Maloney was enforcing the following rule, here is the rule,” coupled with the lack of clarity about the issue itself – was it his allegedly long hair or was it the cap he was wearing – makes me think that possibility that it was either issue is unlikely. If, in other words, they thought it was clear cut, why not come over the top with everything that absolved Maloney?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Because there’s a process. In our case, what could be done immediately would be to suspend the referee. Beyond that, we are part of a national organization, and the process requires that we pass it to the national office, which will conduct the investigation. The state board would say, “The referee has been suspended. The national office is investigating.” And that’s what would be said even if we all knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the referee was enforcing the rules as written, or that the referee had been a racist a**hole and was going to be banned from the sport.

        In all likelihood, the process in New Jersey will have been largely dictated by the company providing the liability insurance coverage. Certainly in my sport it is, because we’re out of business w/o liability insurance. The sanctioning body for NJ high school athletics may self insure, but I would be surprised. You need to have your own reserves to do that — eg, it doesn’t look like Michigan State is finding their $500M settlement particularly painful. High school athletics is unlikely to have a few million salted away against legal claims. Insurance companies don’t care about the good of the athletes, or the referees, or even the sanctioning bodies. They care about processes that minimize the risk of them having to pay large settlements.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      I can see this being one of those letter/spirit of the rule kind of things.

      The wrestler wants to keep his dreads, the coach reads the rule and decides it has enough wiggle room to allow it. Maybe they go to a couple of meets and the coach sells his logic to the refs at those meets and they accept the interpretation. Problem is, the refs have final say at the meet, and it only takes one ref to reject the interpretation and decide to stick to the letter of the rule to cause this issue.

      Ultimately, as Mike says, it will be up to the governing body to decide who was right, and hopefully issue guidance clearing up any ambiguity in the rule.Report

      • For the record, I think it is much more likely that nothing was sold to referees at other meets, but rather, that those referees were not motivated by the same sort of hostility as Maloney was. There was no issue, so they didn’t make it an issue. But Maloney made an issue out of it to show both the wrestler and the world who was in charge, and whose way goes.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Given the guys past incident, you may well be right. But the ref may very well be exonerated simply because the rules could be interpreted both ways. If that winds up being the case, then the best you can hope for is that the governing body clarifies the rules, so as to avoid this being an issue in the future.Report

          • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

            From the linked article:

            Johnson was wearing a cap, but it wasn’t attached to the headgear as the rule requires, according to Buena graduate Ron Roberts, a wrestling referee of more than 20 years.

            Johnson would’ve been in compliance in the past, but the rule changed within the past couple of seasons to require the cap to be attached to the headgear, according to Howie O’Neil, who’s officiated for 44 years.

            “The interpretation of the rule was applied correctly,” said Roberts, who hadn’t seen the video, but had heard of the incident. “The kid had to have legal head cover by rule or he’s got to cut his hair.”

            The letter of the law is on the side of the referee. Absent past bad behavior by said referee, this is a story about a kid who sacrificed his hair for this teammates.Report

            • @slade-the-leveller Except that other referees had already signed off on this kid’s participation, and neither of the commenters in this article has seen the video. They’re taking Maloney, a guy who denied dropping the n-word despite being surrounded by witnesses, at his implied word. There is no reason for them to do so.Report

              • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

                I haven’t seen the video either, but, as someone who’s officiated high school sports for a quarter century, I can tell you there’s always someone who’s willing to overlook a few of the rules so the day goes a little smoother. Those guys are the bane of any good official. Nothing ruins my day faster than some coach whining how his team’s violation hasn’t been called all season.

                The official in question here does have a past, to be sure, but I don’t want to seem him convicted in the court of public opinion, either. It seems pretty easy to find out whether the kid’s headgear was legal or not.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @slade-the-leveller It is also noting that other wrestlers have claimed to have never heard or seen this penalty called. It is also worth noting that the family is claiming Maloney missed the equipment inspection opportunity because he was late to the event, which makes his hardassery all the more inexplicable. It is finally worth noting that this story presents a different version of the rules violation than what we’ve heard before, which is that the issue is one of equipment snugness to the head (versus attachment) which would seem to suggest that maybe nobody anywhere has any idea what the rule actually is.Report

  4. Avatar pillsy says:

    The problem here is that even if the guy’s ruling was on the level and not motivated by racial bias—why the hell would you believe that?Report