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Old Wed May 09, 2001, 08:44pm
Do not give a damn!!
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Mr. Bell got alot of crap for his first article, this was what he wrote in response.

I will add, that Taylor Bell was inducted to the Central Officials Association (in Chicago) Hall of Fame. He was given this honor because he has over the years written favorable things as it relates to officials and worked with officials in covering IHSA issues. So this is not a man that is disconnected to officials in his writing. He is also soon to retire from the paper too.

Well here is the follow up article:


An official dilemma

May 4, 2001

BY TAYLOR BELL SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST


My recent column outlining the crisis in officiating struck a nerve. The upshot is the Illinois High School Association and school administrators should take steps to correct a flawed system and police assignment chairmen who have turned it into their own fiefdoms.

Many officials who complain about inequities don't want to be identified for fear they will be blackballed. Some are so frustrated and discouraged by their experiences in boys sports that they quit or opt to officiate girls sports, where the pay is the same but the stress isn't.

Rather than rid the system of scoundrels who annually pocket $25,000 to $30,000 by requiring officials to pay as much as $190 to attend summer camps, golf outings and barbecues, some assignment chairmen are more concerned about polishing their images and protecting their behinds.

"I don't like to be painted with the same brush as others who have camps and golf outings," said Central Officials Association vice president Chuck McNellis, who is paid $2,800 to assign the Catholic League. "This is a labor of love to me."

Tom Balle, who assigns football games for the DuPage Valley Conference and has been involved with officiating for 30 years, insists there is "absolutely no good-ol'-boy influence" in his profession.

"We are aware of only one person who was using his title as assignment chairman to make money for himself, and the IACAO [Inter-Association Council of Athletic Officials], the IHSA and the local schools no longer recognize him," Balle said.

But another veteran assignment chairman said: "The bad guys outweigh the good guys in this system."

An official with 27 years of experience suggested robots should be used to make assignments. Why?

"Because the system is crooked from the bottom to the top," he said. "If a coach doesn't want an official to work at his school, he is history. And because the IHSA assigns officials to state meets, a lot of officials will never see a state final. Even if they are qualified, they will be overlooked because the IHSA favors a handful of officials."

Mike Shereck, the president of UMPS, the largest baseball officials organization in Chicago, said two things that interfere with promotion and recruitment of officials are unbalanced fee structures and too much politics in the advancement process.

"There is a communication gap between coaches and athletic directors and between athletic directors and the IHSA," Shereck said. "They don't focus on the problem and identify it. Everyone has a different agenda. And everyone is locked into their own agendas."

There are good guys who are fair and don't hand out assignments like Mayor Daley hands out patronage. Among them are McNellis, Bob Brown (Fox Valley), Jim Glueckert and Jerry Heidlauf (Central Suburban), Matt Laurich (Suburban Catholic), Ken Maziarka (East Suburban Catholic), Ed Stanley (Suburban Prairie) and John Graham (North Suburban).

"If corruption is there, it needs to be pointed out," Glueckert said. "I wasn't aware it is as rampant as it is."

We're not just talking about football and basketball. Officials in swimming, soccer and baseball also complain about a system riddled with cronyism and other abuses that prevent young officials from progressing in a reasonable length of time unless they play (or pay) the game.

Take Mike Kerzisnik, for example. He has been an official for 16 years. He works basketball and baseball. Disgusted by the buddy system, he became an independent contractor after seeing the sons of one assignment chairman get choice games without being licensed.

"This is a card game everyone wants to get into," Kerzisnik said. "Every organization is the same. They all have certain guys who get the best games. If there is anything left, you can get it. It is a cancer that is growing and not getting any better.

"If you are good and put in blood, sweat and tears, you should be rewarded. But that isn't good enough. I'm not too proud to be a member of the IHSA. They should back officials more. Instead, officials feel they are at the bottom of the totem pole.

"We are asked to do a lot of things, like promote sportsmanship. But you work a freshman A or B contest, and you think you have been through a meat grinder. Coaches and parents beat you to death. And the schools, officials associations and IHSA don't protect you."



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