>For those that don’t know, one of my hobbies is Refereeing soccer(football for the rest of the world). Particularly, I’m a State Level USSF Level 6 referee. What does this mean….it means that I get to spend a lot of time on the weekends from Mid March through Mid December on the soccer pitch. It also means I see a lot more of the negative side of the game, and am on the receiving end of much of the wraith of coaches and parents. I deal mostly with high level games now, but I still go back and do the youth games to help out the newer referees and do some education.
First let me say, that I do this not necessarily for the money (even though it helps). I do it for the LOVE OF THE GAME. I played when I was growing up, dropped the game for a period of time, and picked it back up again. I played until I got tired of trying to keep up with 21 year olds on the field, when I hit my 30s, but wanted to be involved with the game still. I thought the officiating was horrible, and that I should put my foot where my mouth was. So I signed up for class, passed and went to the field. Believe me when I say, that refereeing isn’t that simple. You need to make a split second decision. For those that think it is simple, take the class, and go ref some games…I think you’ll see your opinion change.
I’ve been doing this close to 8 years now, and will say one thing. Yes, there are many very bad refs out there. They don’t move, they hardly ever leave the center circle, aren’t in position to make a call, etc. However, the fault of these bad refs, does NOT give a specator of any youth game or any game, the right to berate a 14 year Assistant Referee or Center on on a U-10 girls game for blowing a call. What is even worse, is the language that can come out of these parents mouths. Oh and BTW, don’t argue over a throw in…the ball typically goes right back to the other team 10 seconds later.
The problem I see here is that we tend to loose focus of what should be important. Yes, I realize you are paying thousands of dollars a year to have your kid on a traveling select team. However, why are you doing it? Is it for the kid, or is it to try and live your dream through your kid. Now most of the parents are good…they do it for the right reasons….however what follows is about those that aren’t.
Now, I typically stick to the higher level games, which is where I hear a lot of abuse. I suspect some noise from the specatators at these games, there is a lot on the line (college scouts, etc.). The most disgusting thing I saw, happened last year when I went back to do a local youth tournament. I was the center for a U-11 Boys Gold Division select championship game. It was a hot match for a U-11 with the kids playing hard. However, parents on each side argued and screamed at every call that they didn’t like (I had one 14 year old ref unfortunately that had to be on the parents side). I addressed the situation with both the coach and specatotors so that the abuse was sent my way not the assitant refs way. Not half way through the game, two parents (one from each team) got into a fight on the side lines. It’s a U-11 Boys game! It isn’t the World Cup! Both were dismissed, and finished watching the game from the comfort of their cars.
A piece of advice to the parents…if you don’t like the way the game is being called, or think the refs in your area are worthless. Take the Referring class available in your area. Do some games. Your view point will change. Not every shove is foul worthy, you aren’t going to get the whistle blown everytime there is an apparent handball. I do agree that you should expect consistency in the calls. However, what you think you see on the sideline isn’t necessarily what is truely happening. I know it opened my eyes when I started reffing. Also, please, please, go easy on the youth referees….it’s hard enough for us to keep them interested in continuing to ref with everything else going on. We don’t need verbal abuse by specators to help drive them away.
With all this said, I will say that I recently did a U-10 game, in which I thought the coach did an excellent job. She never screamed or talked down to her players, she was polite but still firm in expressing her opinion to the refs when she thought they were wrong. Most importantly though, she had the right attitude instilled not only into her players but her parents. So many thanks to the New Albany Freedom U-10 girls team, coached by Abbey Dehart. I wish more coaches and parents followed the example you and your team set.
It is these instances of the true spirit of the game that keep me going, to help strive an make the game as enjoyable as it can be. For done right, and played well…it truely is a beautiful game.