Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 5: Not everyone is a winner - deal with it

So as the tournament wears on, there are some things that will become more clear if they were not already. Not everyone finishes first. Now this comes in a number of different forms that the referee has to deal with. Here are some ways to consider:

Teams that do not qualify for a final.
There is an old axiom that the toughest match is the semi final. Well that is generally true. Some equally tough matches are those for a chance to get into a semi-final. Those can be brutal. So before you start ANY MATCH, look at the standings and understand what each team has to win ... or lose. This foresight can be invaluable as you prepare for a match.

Parents of players on teams that do not qualify for a final.
This is somewhat corollary from the above, but has its own flavor. Regionals are a place that college coaches come to watch promising young players, and those players that a parent has berated a coach into coming to watch. I've said it before, college is expensive, and any edge that can be had, a parent will look for. As with any match, determine who those stars may be and protect them. It may be their chance to shine in front of a college coach. This is not to say that they deserve special treatment, all players are equal. However things may get a little more animated than usual ... and this may be a reason why. Just a thought.

Not all referees will get a final.
This is an obvious, but sometimes painful fact of a tournament like this. It may leave a referee sitting on the touchline for the whole day of finals. It may leave whole teams of referees from the same state sitting on the touchline. It can hurt ... and as I have personally experienced, it does hurt. Especially when you thought it should have been you doing that U-19 final.

Now I can not even begin to explain what goes into assigning stuff like this, It is a real black art to me and one I just assume leave that way. It is more than ability, more that politics, more than luck. It is just the way it is and a referee has to be aware of that.

My thought is to support your compatriots or one who are going out there that day. They will appreciate the support and remember it forever. It is truly an event to be selected for a final at the regionals, and that referee carries everyone from the state with them. Show them your support.

Referees are generally competitive animals and it can sting when one is not first. Just remember that these referees that you may feel competition with one day, are your brothers and sisters for all time. These relationships you make, can last a lifetime and tranced the game and everything attached to it.

Embrace the competitive spirit, but remember the human element and support your friends when they need it most. They will in turn, do the same when your time comes ... to be first.

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