Skip to content

An Editorial-The Golden Whistle Award



Posted August 28, 2001

by David L. Howard

I was reading an article about Southeastern Conference football officials in the Knoxville News Sentinel and found some interesting parallels to judging a horse show.

SEC supervisor of officials Bobby Gaston says there are 160 "decision moments" each official faces in each game. "If you multiply 160 by seven officials, you see there are over 1,000 decisions a crew must make every game," Gaston said.

I don't know how many "decision moments" there are while judging a horse show but if you only make one "decision" about every horse at the Celebration in every class, you have approximately 5,000 decisions. Multiply that times five officials and you come up with more than 25,000 decisions.

Plus the judges have to make a decision on a horse's performance both ways of the ring, in workouts and in many other ways such that the number of decisions reaches astronomical proportions.

How many times have we seen officials "blow" a call in a game? The SEC officials meet once a year and present the annual Golden Whistle Award, which goes to the biggest "officiating screw-up" of the year. And there are no shortage of bad calls to choose from.

Officiating (judging) at any level is a thankless task and will always be subject to the human element and controversy. Last year when an official ruled a pass completion in the end zone for Florida receiver Jabbar Gaffney to beat the University of Tennessee in the closing moments of a very important early season game, the fans in Knoxville let him know about it.

The big screen in the end zone replayed the catch several times with the official standing helplessly by while the fans vented their anger towards him. Later, when he was identified by name and as a graduate of Vanderbilt University, a heated rival of Tennessee, many people on talk shows and the Internet questioned his motives and alleged a conflict of loyalties.

I am a big fan of the University of Tennessee and saw the game and the replay and the official blew the call, in my opinion. But to condemn this man over one difficult decision in a game of a thousand decisions is patently unfair. And then to question his ethics and loyalties because he attended a rival university is ridiculous.

But how often do we do the same type of thing. You can rest assured that judges (officials) are going to blow some calls. Instead of condemning them for a bad decision and/or questioning their integrity or "loyalty" to a particular horse or rider, let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

Not everyone is going to be pleased with the decisions the judges make during the Celebration, that's a given. But how we react to those decisions will tell us a lot about ourselves. Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear someone say "We got beat by a better horse tonight" or "I thought we beat that other horse but I guess the judges just missed it"?

By the way, I found it interesting that the top officials in the league make $1,000 a game; the judges at the Celebration are paid $16,500.

More Stories

  • Stinnett featured in local newspaper

    Canton native Lexie Stinnett and her horse, Smoky Mountain Strong, won a two-year-old World Grand Championship in Shelbyville, Tennessee in August. It was the latest chapter in the team’s remarkable story... Read More
  • Riders' Cup showcased on Friday evening!

    Since it’s inception in 2005, the Riders’ Cup program has grown to be a highly competitive and respected program. To date, close to $1,000,000 has been paid out to dedicated trainers who continue to bring top horses to shows all across the country... Read More
  • Relationships Matter: Dr. Goldentyer addresses trainers introducing herself

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association held their annual membership meeting on December 13th at the Cool Springs Marriott. President Bill Cantrell opened the meeting with a silent moment of prayer for trainer Joe Martin, who is battling illness... Read More
  • 2019 WHTA Auxiliary Awards

    The presentation of the WHTA Auxiliary awards was moved to Friday evening. Auxiliary President Sarah Smith greeted all the recipients on the stage with their awards... Read More
  • Yoho announces retirement from Congress

    Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL-3) announced he will not seek reelection and will retire from Congress in January 2021.  Yoho pledged to only serve four terms and that eight-year run will conclude at the end of this 116th Congress... Read More
  • KWHA honors all HIOs

    The Kentucky Walking Horse Association, KWHA, is a high point Association that puts on The Kentucky Celebration and a yearly awards banquet. An opportunity to affiliate with KWHA will be sent out in early January to show managers... Read More
  • An Interesting Year

    The year 2019 has been an interesting one to say the least. For the past several years we have produced an issue dedicated to reviewing the news of the year that has shaped the industry or changed it in some significant way... Read More
  • TWHBEA elects first woman President

    A momentous and noteworthy occurrence in the history of the association’s storied existence – the first woman was elected President of the 84-year-old breed registry. Margo Urad, of Rockwall, TX, took the reins as the incoming top officer... Read More
  • Birth Announcement – Lane Cooper Price

    Lane Cooper Price was born Sunday, November 3, 2019, to Nice Price and Molli Hobgood of Fairmount, Georgia. He weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and was 21 inches long. Proud grandparents are Alan and Cindy Price and Kerry and Penny Hobgood. Nick is trainer at Price Stables and Molli teaches 3rd grade in Fairmount, Georgia.  Read More
  • TWHBEA embraces change as new faces join the TWHBEA EC for 2020

    On the heels of Friday’s general membership meeting, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association annual directors meeting mirrored yesterday’s meeting in tone and efficiency as about 70 of the group’s leaders gathered at 10 a.m. for a heavy load of business with the election serving as the pleasant shake-up of the day. Read More