Referee gets a little extra pay

Q. I officiate youth hockey. In nonleague games, it is the coaches who pay the two officials. At one game, one team's coach (whom I knew) paid the other official the normal fee but tucked away extra money for me. When my co-official asked if I had gotten the same wage, I said yes so he would not feel cheated. Was it ethical for this coach to pay me extra when the other official and I are the same age, have the same experience and both did the same amount of work?

A.M., New JerseyThat's why I lie to my (imaginary) wife about my (fictional) mistress: so my wife won't feel cheated.

Both you and that coach acted badly. He prevented your fellow official from getting equal pay, and you covered up for him.

But it is the other team's coach who has the bigger gripe.

How can he be confident that a game is officiated fairly if his rival might slip an official a few bucks? For obvious reasons, few sports permit a coach to give an official a pregame tip.

It's unfortunate that this coach directly paid you at all.

It would be better if both coaches contributed to pay packets not designated as coming from either of them individually, to avoid the possibility of an official, even subconsciously, favoring the team that put money in his pocket.

A sleepover dilemmaQ. I am a recently widowed father of two boys and an 11- year-old girl. My daughter likes to have friends sleep over. We are new to the area, and I know very few of their parents. Am I obliged to call them and let them know there is no mommy in the house?

C.M., New JerseyYou need not call each parent to report on the gender breakdown of the sleepover supervisors. You must, of course, respond honestly to reasonable queries from those parents: Have you actually OK'd the big party?, etc.

Some parents might feel uneasy about having only a man about the place, and you are certainly free to volunteer any information you think they might want. But there is no reason a single dad can't do a fine job here and no need to apologize for being one.