Saturday, November 17, 2012

Check you rights at the schoolhouse gate?

Looks like BC star Stephanie McCaffrey had to check her rights the other day when she was suspended from playing against Penn State. A detail of her internet activities can be found here. READER WARNING for adult content.

The title comes from the case of Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969) where it was made clear by SCOTUS, that a student can retain their rights within the school to protest (black arm bands in the case of Tinker) provided a safe environment is maintained. A good brief is here.

Now, should she be suspended in expressing her 1st Amendment rights, however vile they were?

Yes, I think she should be, not only for the reason that sports are not "core" to school and as such Tinker would not directly apply. Sports are considered outside the curriculum and as such are generally governed by other agreements made between the school and student athlete and include things like morality clauses.

Why do I bring this scenario up?

Well, aside from the lesson we should all know that if you write it electronically, it is forever in this day and age. We can go right to the recent scandals rocking the CIA for that lesson, not some 18 year old at BC.

More importantly, as referees we are in a position of great responsibility at all levels. It may not feel that way when you are out in a town match doing U-6 ball, but it is true. We are judged all the time as referees, on the field or off, and have to be careful (the more careful the higher we go). Silly things on a Twitter account can cost you big time.

Granted, this is a silly incident, and I personally think to hang McCaffrey out to dry misses the larger picture that who she was talking about is a convicted child molester. Doesn't make her action right, but come on folks, lets put it in context.

Bottom like is as a referee, you check some rights at the door at times, and have to be careful how to share your opinion, especially if it is controversial.

I think we will soon see McCaffrey again, with a bit more sense about her.

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