Monday, August 11, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #189 - August 11, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #189 – August 11, 2008

After Further Review … “You’ve got to be kiddin’ me – Donaghy ONLY got 15 MONTHS in the ‘slammer?” shouted a current sports official to me on the phone. The official, who is a member of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) was outraged at the light sentencing Donaghy received but, primarily incensed about the embarrassment Donaghy caused ALL sports officials.

To recap, former National Basketball Referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to Federal gambling charges on games he officiated during his 13-year tenure on the NBA courts. It was never made clear how many games and/or years Donaghy provided “inside information” to others about games he worked.

“Not long enough” continued the NASO official, stating that U.S. District Court Judge Carol Amon could have enforced the maximum sentence of 20 YEARS. Judge Amon acquiesced to Donaghy’s defense attorneys, stating that “he (Donaghy) provided substantial assistance” in the cases of his co-defendants, James Battista and Thomas Martino, former high school classmates. In the neighborhood where I grew up, we called that “ratting on your buddies.”

In my years as a referee, as well as a sports fan, there has always been a suspicious nature by fans who are “convinced” officials favor one T.E.A.M. The accusation, of course, is that the official favors the “other” team, not the one that fan follows. My book, “Impartial Judgment” explains the officials’ philosophy of
“I don’t care who wins.” I didn’t -- and neither do officials today.

Donaghy lost his 1) job as an NBA referee (earning about $160,000 a year); 2) his family – his wife, Kim, has divorced him; 3) but mostly has lost his dignity as a person. The NBA has filed a suit, which is still pending, asking him to repay $1.4 million. Judge Amon ruled that along with Battista and Martino, Donaghy must repay $217,000. Judge Amon also ordered Donaghy be “treated for his gambling addiction.” Gambling addiction?

Now, I don’t want to infringe on Dr. Phil’s territory, but the idea that Donaghy’s problem was a gambling addiction is absurd! Donaghy’s “problem” was GREED, a sense of POWER and lack of INTEGRITY – not addiction! If he were a gambling addict, why wouldn’t he just go to Vegas or Atlantic City – like former NBA stars Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, who admit to being addicted to gambling, but NEVER bet on NBA games in which they were involved. I haven’t walked in the Judge’s shoes or sat on that “bench,” but when she swallowed that “addiction baloney,” she took the easy way out!
Plea bargaining at its worst!

Will you be watchful that greed and a false sense of power are avoided in whatever you do?

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