Refs won’t work Basalt’s coming games | AspenTimes.com
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Refs won’t work Basalt’s coming games

BASALT Local referees have decided they won’t work at the boys and girls high school basketball games in Basalt on Friday or Saturday because of alleged problems with adult fans.The Glenwood Springs Officials Association made the decision without meeting with Basalt High School administrators, according to Basalt Principal Jim Waddick.Waddick said a meeting had been scheduled for Wednesday evening at the request of the officials association. But when Waddick checked his e-mail early Wednesday, he was informed that the association had decided “not to service” the Basalt home games. Randy Hunt, a member of the association’s executive board and the head official in the pool, didn’t return numerous telephone messages or an e-mail requesting comment from The Aspen Times.The referees’ decision left Basalt High School Athletic Director Mike Green scrambling to find three officials from outside the area to call the games on Friday against Olathe. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, no substitute refs had been found for Friday. Those games might have to be rescheduled, Waddick said.Referees from Grand Junction were hired for Saturday’s games in Basalt against Gunnison. Waddick also wants to hire outside referees to call girls and boys games in Basalt on Feb. 16 and 17.The refs’ decision traces back to Feb. 3 games between Basalt and valley rival Roaring Fork in Carbondale. Official Jay Rickstrew had Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux removed from the gym for making a hand gesture that Rickstrew found offensive.Hunt told The Aspen Times on Monday that he was concerned about the safety of referees working in Basalt based on fan behavior over the last few seasons. He said the executive board of the officials association would decide Wednesday evening whether or not to work the games in Basalt. Why the decision was made on Tuesday night is unclear because the refs aren’t talking.Hunt’s comment about Basalt fans has Basaltines crying foul.Waddick said the referees association didn’t express any concerns about fan behavior to him this season prior to Tuesday. He talked to the officials association last season about a concern he said turned out to be a misunderstanding.The principal defended the behavior of Basalt fans – students and adults – by saying they aren’t any different from fans in any other town. He said he has seen some occasional bad behavior and he has talked to some parents.Longtime Basalt Longhorn booster Ted Lupe attended Saturday’s game at Roaring Fork and found fans well behaved. “I didn’t hear any taunting or any screaming from either side,” he said.Lupe said referees have become too thin-skinned. He has been attending games for about 30 years and witnessed crowds that were a lot “rowdier” than now. Nevertheless, officials have become more sensitive and ejecting fans simply for questioning calls.”Officials have gone way, way too far,” Lupe said. “It’s not even fun anymore.”Huge said there is a huge difference between questioning a call – which is part of sports – and taunting an official. The refs need to recognize that, he said.Duroux, a Basalt High School graduate, has participated in and watched Longhorn games for about 40 years. He remains a fixture at all Longhorns events even though his youngest child graduated last year, and he is well-known as a booster.He felt he was unjustly tossed from the Roaring Fork game after he gestured to Rickstrew that a call should have been made for a delay.Duroux said Monday there was no reason why referees should fear for their safety while officiating in Basalt. Basalt fans “are smart enough not to take it out of the gym,” he said.Waddick also said he doesn’t understand that concern. He said administrators have always been available to remove or otherwise discipline fans when directed to by refs, he said.”I’ve never had a request that we’ve ignored from them,” said Waddick.Both Duroux and Waddick said Basalt fans are concerned that so many officials for the Western Slope League have ties to Carbondale. Numerous referees live in Carbondale or, like Rickstrew, graduated from there.Waddick said he doesn’t believe that’s led to biased calls. However, it has raised issues of credibility and trust in the minds of many Basalt fans, he said.”The concern of the Basalt parents is that there (should be) no favoritism,” Waddick said.The Colorado High School Activities Association is “paying attention” to the situation between the Glenwood Springs Officials Association and Basalt High School, said Tom Robinson, an assistant commissioner with the organization that oversees high school sports and other activities. Robinson is the association’s liaison with officials.He said there are problems that require the two sides and sit down and work things out. He didn’t take sides in the debate, but stressed that adults need to put sportsmanship at the forefront for the sake of the kids.”There still has to be some civility in how things play out,” Robinson said. “It’s just a game.”Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.


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