By Dave Zednik, IHOA Rules & Ethics Chairman
QUESTION: There are many different things that can be said that various people may find offensive. What judgment should an Official use in assessing a penalty?
ANSWER: Preferably, good judgment that holds players/coaches accountable for these types of actions. Rule References 601(a.2, b.1, c.2 and e.3).
There is no easy answer as individual people deem different things to be offensive. Most people will know an obscene gesture when they see it or hateful or discriminatory language when heard. These situations must be penalized according to the rule.
There are certainly other areas where offensive language may also be used and should be appropriately penalized. Officials are reminded that other penalties exist for these types of actions, including unsportsmanlike conduct (taunting or inciting an opponent), or bench minor/misconduct for obscene, profane or abusive language. In each instance, the official should use their best judgment in assessing the proper penalty.
And, if in doubt, assess the proper penalty and report the actions to the Proper Authorities to review under supplementary discipline.