At times, referees do make mistakes

No player, coach or fan should abuse an official [“LI sports officials driven out by verbal abuse,” News, May 28].

Having said that, I’m confused about why coaches in a competitive environment such as high school sports are expected to not question an official when he or she obviously has made a wrong call. This is not abuse. As a matter of fact, coaches are doing their jobs by sticking up for their players.

Most coaches spend 2 to 2.5 hours a day, six days a week, with their players during the season, and many hours out of season. For most coaches, the pay is nowhere close to equitable for the time they spend on their teams. We do it because we love coaching, and we love our players. We give our hearts to both.

When an official makes a bad call, I’m not going to clap my hands and say, “OK, you’ll get it right the next time.” Abuse should never be tolerated, but questioning calls is not abuse.

Officials at high school games are not volunteers. They’ve accepted a job — a job that does not warrant abuse, but a job that at times deserves criticism. If you expect not to be criticized, then being a high school official — or coach, for that matter — is probably not a job you should take.

Barry Dickson, East Williston

Editor’s note: The writer is the former boys varsity basketball coach for East Meadow High School.

One of the main reasons fans cross the line and abuse officials and coaches is because there are rarely any consequences.

When I was an assistant coach of a soccer team for 13-year-olds, the dad of a very talented player (a very nice guy outside of game time), was particularly annoying one day.

The coach pulled his son out of the game, had him walk around the field to the fan section and tell his dad, “Coach told me to tell you, if you yell or instruct me at all during the game, he will not let me play.”

That parent never was unruly again.

All youth players are supposed to display sportsmanship. Along with various permission forms parents sign, I suggest a “fan’s code of conduct.” Along with guidelines for obvious behaviors, the code should say, “If the parent or relative of any player violates these rules, the player is subject removal from the game.”

This may sound harsh, as some may say it’s not reasonable to ask a child to be held accountable for a parent’s misbehavior. However, when a few children ask parents to agree to the code, they help send a powerful message — and they learn early how to act when they become parents.

Adam Feinberg, Oceanside

Troubled when justice system goes awry

Kudos to Newsday reporter Thomas Maier for his excellent investigative work on the Keith Bush series [“An innocent man?,” News, May 21].

Nothing can replace or make up for better than two-thirds of Bush’s life being taken away by overly aggressive police detectives. But the district attorney’s office is even more to blame. The district attorney’s office is supposed to see that justice is truly served. I hope Bush brings suit, and it costs the county millions, but the most outrageous part of this entire debacle is that no one is personally held accountable!

It’s amazing that assistant district attorneys have immunity. It’s sad when we’ve seen cases in Suffolk County that have been overturned due to coerced confessions, withheld evidence or some other improper action. I applaud the new district attorney for trying to straighten out an office that has been corrupt for years. It’s truly sad that even when it became apparent there were flaws in the Bush case, some officials took the company line and still supported him staying incarcerated.

God bless Adele Bernhard, the adjunct professor at New York Law School, and her students for digging into Bush’s case. And to Keith Bush, I hope the rest of your time on Earth is a helluva lot better than the past has been.

Bob Sowers, North Bellmore

Now that elected officials who breach the public trust will lose their New York State pensions, it seems to me that the same penalty should be proposed for prosecutors and police who break the rules to get convictions that harm innocent people.

Ken Gillespie, Freeport

I read every word of the articles on Keith Bush and his long struggle to prove his innocence, and one question kept occurring to me: Why did the police and prosecutors suppress evidence and let the likely perpetrator — who went on to commit other crimes — go free?

I can see that there is a certain convenience to continuing with a suspect you already have, and perhaps some pride in having caught someone, but surely the search for the actual criminal should supersede those considerations.

I would like to see interviews with police officers and detectives asking that question. What are the motives for hiding exculpatory evidence and insisting on convicting someone who may be innocent?

Ellen Solow Holzman, Mattituck

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