The Ohio High School Athletic Association and the refs who worked the Walsh Jesuit vs. Louisville (OH) game last Friday night are under heat for a pivotal late-game decision.
Louisville had just scored what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter to go up 26-24. Two Louisville players pointed to the sky after the score, an act meant to honor and pay memory to a teammate who died in an accident a few days before the contest. The ref threw a flag, handing Louisville an "excessive celebration" penalty and Walsh Jesuit a short field to work with. Walsh would kick a last-second field goal to win the game, 27-26.
Coaches, players, family, and a ton of people who never watched the game were in an uproar about the penalty. This was no Chad OchoCinco popcorn celebration, not a dance, not an insult to the opponents. Just a simple, solemn moment.
As the AP reported, Ohio High School Athletic Association assistant commissioner Henry Zaborniak said that the game officials responsible for the call were actually correct in penalizing the tribute, as it could be considered offensive to the other team without first knowing the context of the gesture.
And today, OHSAA posted this message on Twitter: “OHSAA is sorry to hear about a tragic death, but how could the officials have known gesture was honoring a friend?”
Well, you could ask, certainly. Or take back the penalty once the coach offered an explanation. Or, you could sincerely apologize after the fact and not act like total nitwits who are above criticism and credit the players for being "excessively thoughtful." Nah. Of course not.
Video of the celebration is included in Fox 8's report, which is embedded below.