Saturday, June 19, 2010

Time to pack his bags?

With the results of the USA v. SVN behind us, there is a burning question in my head. Are we going to see Coulibaly controlling a match again in this World Cup?

I'm not going to answer it though, or even hint at an opinion. Some of you may cry "FOUL" to this, but as I said before, I am not there, have never been in that particular spot, and did not see what he saw, or did not see. I can not in good conscious second guess a referee that was meters from the play.

Lets let history be our guide. Does anyone know a guy names Esse Baharmast? Does anyone recall what occurred in the 1998 World Cup match he presided over? Well since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is one that some may recall.

You see, a referee can go from villain to hero in a short time. For those interested, the full story is here.

So just to reiterate, I am emphatically not sharing an opinion about the decision in the 86' which pulled a USA goal out of the net. I am however going to talk about how at times assessments can be uncomfortable things. I will opine that this assessment will be uncomfortable for the entire refereeing team.

So there you are, had a big match of some type, and you are being assessed. During the match there was some type of controversy that maybe only you saw, or maybe everyone EXCEPT you saw. The match ends and you and your assistants go to the locker room among shouting fans and players.

You know an assessor is coming ... it was a tough match ... you don't want to get criticized about it. What do you do?

1. Be calm. Assessors (believe it or not) are there to help, not to berate you. Engage in a dialog to understand where the assessor is coming from, and where you as referee, are coming from.

2. Be honest. If you blew it, say you blew it. If you did't, say you didn't. If you don't know, say you don't know. Nothing will get you into hotter water faster than saying something that is obviously not true to an assessor. Some may buy the BS ... the best will know better.

3. Ask - What would you have done? You might just get a blank look indicating they have no idea. Other braver assessors may say they don't know. The best will have a thought for you to ponder, as a single correct solution rarely presents itself in this game.

4. Say - Thank you. Assessors, as I said before are there to help, not just hang around. You can disagree with the assessment, think they got it all wrong in all aspects, and that they were a blind, clueless, ex-referee trying to relive their career through you. That might be true, every word ... but they took the time to try and help. Appreciate that fact if nothing else.

5. Think about it. There are times when a point in an assessment will not make sense until much later in life. Review those older assessment and rethink about that situation and how you would solve it the next time. It may just happen again.

6. Be your worst assessor. I became an assessor at a young age to try to think like an assessor and understand what they were after. I would perform my own self-assessment and try to come up with the questions they would ask. Sometimes I got it right, sometimes I got it wrong, but in all cases I was thinking about the match, and how I could make my performance better next time.

Remember, learning about this game is an evolution, not a destination. Nothing impresses this assessor more than honest introspection and a desire to get better next time out regardless of the previous result. I suspect this is the same for most assessors out there today.

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