Friday, August 13, 2010

Yeah, but it's just a friendly ...

So this evening I was watching the New England Patriots play the New Orleans Saints in a pre-season gridiron football game. While not a gridiron football junkie, I do enjoy watching sometimes ... and certainly the home team whenever I can.

It got me thinking about fall and all it has to offer, including some tune up matches for some colleges or other amateur teams in the late summer, maybe even a high school match or two. It was then I remembered some advice I received a long time ago regarding such matches:

There is no such thing as a friendly match.

During these matches a referee can be at their most vulnerable. It is here that everyone involved can have the best of intentions in getting the teams together to "get the cobwebs out" or to prepare for an upcoming season. It is here however that players can lose their perspective and while not aiming to, really forget they are under the auspices of a referee.

If you accept a pre-season, scrimmage, or exhibition match, understand before hand what the expectations are. If it is a formal friendly or exhibition that is under the control of some state organization or league, chances are there is some understanding about what the expectations are and how they should be enforced. If not, you may want to find out before accepting the assignment.

That said, just because the match is not a league match does not give license to abandon the Laws Of The Game. For example, I was asked once to referee an O-30 scrimmage in my youth and "... not give any cautions". Well, you can guess what happened. I tried to oblige ... right up to the point there was a (2) footed, over the ball tackle that wound up in a fight.

Not so friendly after all.

Don't misunderstand me, there is a place for tuners. Not every match has to be a league game of some sort. Players need real game situations for practice too, and having a referee there helps. Friendlies are an essential part of what needs to happen for a team to prepare for a season or tournament.

My only point is to go into that match prepared like any other, and exercise the Laws as we have all been trained to do. Otherwise unwanted results may occur, for everyone.

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