Tuesday, April 5, 2011

All for one?

File this one under unresolved.

Just the other day I received a survey request from Teresa Smith who serves as a rules administrator for the NCAA (for soccer and a number of other sports). The survey was interesting, asking about various modification the NCAA would seem to be considering. These included:
  • Limiting time for a throw-in.
  • When players would shake hands.
  • Use of noise makers.
  • Excessive celebration of a gaol, and
  • Time keeping if a caution is issued in the final 5 minutes.
My question is twofold.

First, why the exceptions to the LTOG? FIFA's LOTG deal with all of these things either explicitly or implicitly, and in fact allow the referee some discretion in how to handle them in many cases. While part of me wants to say that the NCAA is considering these rule changes to help referees, I actually believe that changes like this hurt referees as it requires referees to act in all of the above situations without any latitude to understand the situation. It turns a thoughtful moment into a "just do it" moment. Why not let the referees just referee? We say that a lot with players ... let them play. Well please, just let me referee.

Second, why not harmonize on FIFA's LOTG? This is a twist of the above question, but would make things easier for referees to be sure. I used to carry a matrix around from season to season that would enumerate the differences so I did not blow a restart doing a high school or college match. Why not make it easy on everyone? Players, coaches, and referees alike. Go ahead and wear the NCAA patch, but use the same rules.

Granted, there are times when the LOTG need to be modified for various reasons such as age of the players. Changes could include goal size, ball size, field size, periods of play, etc.. High school and college players are entering or are in the prime of their career, why are any modification needed at all?

To help the referee I think is part of it. To be distinct from FIFA as an organization I believe is another. The latter if true, may once again demonstrate a business element creeping into THE game and having the potential for a harmful result.

Just an opinion ... what are yours?

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