Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Observations from State Referee Recertification Clinic

I stopped in at a recertification session for State referees this past Sunday in Westboro. It is a requirement for anyone holding a state badge in Massachusetts. It was well attended, with most of the state referees in attendance, as well as all of the National referees who helped out.

Observation #1: There is a prevailing undercurrent that things should be laid out and made easy for the referees. Several people were heard to say things like, "They should..." or, "There should be..." (with the rest of the sentence containing the suggestion of what someone else should be doing to make the referees' lives easier). Good suggestions to be sure, but hardly anyone started a sentence with, "We should..." or preferably even, "I should..." I'll be the first to acknowledge that refereeing is a difficult and often thankless job, but did we lose our sense of responsibility somewhere along the way?

Observation #2: Many in the room struggled to catch the nuances of the Laws, especially with regard to things that rarely if ever happen in the match. Some of the more obscure questions on the written exam were dismissed as nonsensical and not important enough to worry about. No doubt most referees may never have to deal with a crazy spectator who comes onto the field to prevent the scoring of a goal, but wouldn't it be nice to know you can when and if it happens? Anybody can handle the common stuff. Better referees are going to prepare for the unusual events which inevitably occur when least expected.

Observation #3: There is a lot of pride in that room. When asked if they wanted to downgrade their fellow officials who did not attend the clinic, the overwhelming sentiment was yes. Being a State Referee requires annual assessments, fitness training, clinic attendance and even a financial commitment that is significantly more than the rest of the population. These people generally have the soccer culture firmly embedded in their souls. They want to keep the standards high. We should be happy to have them representing our state.

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