Monday, June 21, 2010

Time for a Water Break

I journeyed out to Lancaster yesterday to watch the Youth State Cup Championships. All of the final games were being played in each age group through U-19. Winners go on to Regional and hopefully National Championships.

Some good soccer was being played. Also some not so good soccer, but I am not here to report on the level of play.

About midway through each half of the games, the referees blew the whistle and instructed all the players to go to the benches for their "water break." The players dutifully complied and no one seemed bothered by the interruption, save one or two purists of the game, myself included.

FIFA has a perfectly good mechanism already in the Laws of the Game to allow for water breaks. It is called, "Player gets thirsty, player goes to the touchline to drink some water, player returns to the game." Notice in the FIFA method, the game keeps on going.

So why do the people that run Youth Soccer in this country see fit to mickey around with a perfectly good game? Don't they already have enough fingers in the pie, with the modifications allowed by FIFA? Those modifications include:
• size of the field,
• size of the ball
• size of the goals
• duration of the game
• substitutions
And oh, by the way, all of the allowed modifications are only allowable in games with players under age 16, or over age 35. Everybody else is supposed to play by the rules.

There are lots of other examples of creative license that youth leagues are taking with the game, such as requiring referees to display yellow or red cards to coaches; or mandating that a player must substitute after receiving a yellow card.

Yeah, I know, that last one is a modification to the Substitution policy so it is ok, right? And maybe you believe a mandatory water break falls under the category of 'duration of the game' but that is a stretch. IMHO, water breaks and the like, while well intentioned, do not really add anything to the game and may just be further eroding the players' ability to think and make decisions for themselves. Maybe that is not important. You tell me.

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