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Originally published October 25, 2010 at 7:49 PM | Page modified October 26, 2010 at 2:11 PM

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Pink whistle blowers won't face penalties

The Washington Officials Association won't penalize referees who blew pink whistles at games last week to raise awareness for breast-cancer research.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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High-school football referees who used pink whistles in Seattle-area games last week to raise awareness for breast-cancer research will not face any sanctions from the Washington Officials Association.

Todd Stordahl, WOA commissioner, said it was never the organization's intent to penalize individual officials, who are members of the Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association.

"The whole thing has been blown so far out of proportion," he said Monday.

Stordahl said the WOA's issue was that the PNFOA did not follow proper procedure in electing to change from the standard black whistles, considered part of the uniform.

The WOA has already had a "blue flags" football weekend in support of prostate-cancer awareness and has "pink whistle" events in volleyball, soccer and basketball. So the organization had decided against "pink whistle" football games, in part to keep the focus on the players and games, Stordahl said.

That decision was printed in the Oct. 18 WOA newsletter. But the PNFOA, one of 150 associations under the WOA umbrella, already had its "pink whistle" event planned. Officials also donated their game checks to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

When PNFOA representatives asked what could happen if they went ahead with their event, Stordahl said he informed them there are sanctions for rules and policy violations, including the possibility that an official could be banned from two playoff games — a sanction that could be appealed to the WOA executive board.

"The WOA did not have nor continues to have any intention to fine, take away games or deny pay checks to any member due to wearing a pink whistle," Stordahl said in a message on the WOA website.

He said the WOA "completely supports" many worthy causes, such as breast- and prostate-cancer awareness, but added there is "a process to follow." Representatives from the two organizations will discus that process at an upcoming meeting.

"The last thing we want is to be at odds with each other," Stordahl said.

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