Despite lack of evidence, football ref tagged ‘racist’

When you see a headline like this — in this case in the New York Times — do you automatically decide what the story is?

High School Football Players Who ‘Blindsided’ Referee Say He Made Racist Remarks

Here’s the problem with the excuse two San Antonio football players gave for hammering a referee during a football game: “Those allegations are untrue,” the ref’s attorney says. “It’s unfortunate.”

You think?

Robert Watts, the referee who took the double-hit, is now a racist, whether he actually is one or not.

That’s probably why he asked journalists not to release his name — giving him the same protection extended two the two kids who took him down. But the Austin American Statesman released it anyway.

Absent any proof — and too timid to ask “what racist comments exactly?” — the headlines of the incident focused on the allegation, shifting attention away from the crime.

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School officials say the ref made racist comments, two players told an assistant coach, and an assistant coach ordered the hit on the ref. No news accounts indicate what the alleged comments were.

It’s always possible that racism played a part in the incident. But there should at least be a minimal standard of proof required before a person is painted with the one allegation in which a person is guilty until proven innocent.

None of the stories headlined with the racism charge carries any evidence to support the allegation.