Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wearing the black hat

The other day I was reminded of old spaghetti westerns, really most westerns where good guys wore white hats, and bad guys wore blacks hats.

As most of you know I coach a youth soccer team that Jr. is on. As part of that I work with all the players on a variety of topic and tend to things during the match like strategy (as much as their youth minds will absorb) and just general care and nurturing of players (e.g. bringing oranges and tending to minor injuries).

With memorial day weekend coming up, we played a Saturday/Sunday set to be able to take that weekend off. Saturday I was a coach and wearing the white hat, Sunday I was pressed into service as a referee and was clearly wearing the black hat.

Don't get me wrong, most of the kids on Jr's team were great and got what I was doing and in what capacity I was there. There were some however who were just outright mean at the prospect. After the match I tried to talk with them in a person to person context. They would have none of it.

I was shocked honestly that even just wearing a referee jersey changed me from approachable and helpful to shunned and suspicious.

Sometimes people forget that under the uniform (player or referee) is a person and that regardless of what color hat they wear, should deserve fundamental respect as a person.

I don't fault these kids, they are good kids and I know better, but they are learning it from somewhere. When I watch adults at these matches berating teenage players and referees however, it is no surprise that young players act the way they do, and that we are losing these young referees at a 50% rate year on year.

Paul Levy in his blog (Not Running a Hospital) summed it up nicely in his post, "Dear Coach."

Next time your out, keep in mind those little sponges are picking up everything we do as adults, and trying to mimic it in a way appropriate to them as very young kids. As you can imagine, it does not work out too well.

Just take a second and reflect before hurling that barb. You may end up saving a player or referees career in the process.


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