Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Show me the money!!

I caught an article the other day where this very satirical cartoon of Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, President of FIFA came from. It goes into some interesting detail about how much money FIFA is theoretically going to make in the 2010 World Cup. This article from, estimates FIFA will make between $3.2B and $4B (yes Billion with a B) over the course of the tournament.

Now a disclaimer, and it is above and beyond the Legal Stuff disclaimer. I am not knocking FIFA for making money, and I certainly do not agree with everything the linked web site states about this, or some other topics they report on. I have spent a significant amount of my life attempting to attain membership into this organization as a referee, and if really lucky I may be able to do so via another avenue someday. So believe me when I say, I am not knocking them.

It did get my wheels spinning however regarding the inflection point of money and refereeing at the local levels. For the remainder of this post, please ignore the professional level on up. It is a given that money plays a role and just how much we will explore sometime later. For now it is worth exploring to the youth and amateur referee some places where money plays a role.

So think about your local matches on Saturday. What does money have to do with them? Well, I live in a town that has a really nice athletic complex, and to offset that cost, there is a fee that we pay, per player, per registration. So I have sunk several hundred dollars into each of my little cherubs before they even get to the field. When they get there, I really appreciate when a referee shows up, on time, and in a uniform, any uniform.

This has nothing to do with their competency as an official, it has nothing to do with being fair or that little Jimmy and Jenny are having fun. It has to do (for some) with, I paid for this? 

Sounds harsh huh ... it is. This is a whole new level of being judged for a referee ... a monetary one.

Here is another one for you.

So State Cups are going on in just about every state right now, and from there some will earn a spot to their Regionals, and for a very few from there, the Youth Nationals. Guess who is at these tournaments ...

College recruiters.

Did you know that a private college these days costs about $26,000 per year?

That is insane.

What may be even more insane is the large number of high school players that are competing for the small pool of scholarship monies, and the lengths parents will go to make sure their kids get a shot at it. There is a reasonable argument that this is something good parents do while not taken to the extreme. [One day I will relate the story about a local youth meeting I was in where a mother jumped to her feet and exclaimed, and I mean *EXCLAIMED*, that her daughter was going to be the next Mia Hamm. Her daughter was 5 and the mom's complaint was about how poor the coaching was at that level ... no BS, true story]  If I am ever faced with the situation I will let you know what I decide as as I sit here tonight writing this, I can't say with certainty what I would do.

So what else is at stake in such matches?

Coaches jobs.

Yep, even some youth club coaches do exceedingly well for a salary and losing a Regional Championship match may be a ticket to getting fired. That was tough to get my head around at first. Here I was 19 or so years old and I was told that a coach could lose a job because of my decisions.

It was a lot to consider back then.

My only though is be aware of it at the level you are refereeing at. For the referees in South Africa now, their country is on their shoulders and that weight is far more than someone losing their job. In some cases it can be much, much more. (Remember AndrĂ©s Escobar?) From there it trickles down ... all the way down to that 6 v. 6 match in the park on Saturday morning.

Doesn't mean as referees you should change a thing for this reason, certainly not any calls. It is just something else to be aware of and think about when you are out there.

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