Jim Saddler, an Air Force veteran, was suspended for more than a year after walking out on a high school volleyball game he was set to officiate after a player took a knee during the national anthem.
Saddler, a retired Presidential Flight Attendant on Air Force One, was angered over the show of disrespect, but now regrets how he responded.
“In the Air Force, you have a duty, and you do it,” he told The Indianapolis Star. “The same with sporting events. I guess I went AWOL. I feel bad about it.”
Having served his country and had friends lose their lives defending it, Saddler had no patience for an ill-informed North Central student disrespecting them.
North Central assistant athletic director Andy Elkins was on hand at the game, but instead of taking exception to the student’s behavior, Saddler said he shouted at him, according to the newspaper.
“You have a contract!” the athletic director yelled, reminding Saddler that he had been paid $20 to officiate the game.
In a move that will endear Saddler to millions, he walked over to Elkins and handed him $20 and left.
“What they did just upset me so badly that I just could not stay there,” Saddler said. “I know it’s her constitutional right to do what she wants to do, and it wasn’t fair to the other girls who were standing and respecting the flag.”
After the incident, Saddler, who also officiates softball and basketball, received a letter from IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox informing him that his license to officiate high school games had been revoked for the duration of the current school year through the beginning of winter sports next year, The Indy Star reported.
The Air Force veteran was shocked at what he felt was an excessive penalty.
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