We’ve seen players write initials on their shoes all the time, whether it’s for a family member they’re praying for, for a fallen soldier, for a whole host of things.
Well, now we have a new reason to add to that list: for a referee who is not officiating the ACC tournament.
The referees for the Wake Forest vs. Maryland first-round ACC tournament game came out wearing white tape with the letters “KH” attached to their sneakers. Those initials are for fellow referee Karl Hess, who “declined to participate” in the conference tournament.
If you remember, Hess is the same referee who ejected Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani from the stands during North Carolina State’s game against Florida State on February 18.
To be honest, this is completely ridiculous. Initials are usually reserved for someone who needs remembrance or something along those lines. In this case, it’s for a referee who is not officiating a conference tournament. That’s it. There’s nothing wrong with Hess; he’s just sitting out four days of ACC basketball. Fans already think that refs make the game too much about them -- this probably won't dissaude those people.
It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the North Carolina State quarterfinal game; it seems the referees are in a pro-Karl Hess solidarity mood today.
Below is a good picture of the sneakers and tape, from Stephen Schramm of The Fayetteville Observer. Here's a closer look from Andrew Carter from The News & Observer (N.C.).