Friday, November 23, 2012

Schopenhauer’s Law of Entropy

This "law" states in relevant part:
“If you put a spoonful of sewage in a barrel full of wine, you get sewage.”

Sounds like what can happen to a match if the referee is not careful.

Take a look at Reviewing MLS Officiating in 2012 by Randy Vogt which goes through some of the decisions made by MLS referees over this 2012 season. While I don't always agree with his analysis, the overall point he makes gets closer to accurate, which reads:

"I understand that one game does not make a season but we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks if the high quality of that performance led to Geiger being assigned the MLS Cup Final."

If you look carefully, this statement is actually a contradiction, as a referees last match, especially at that level, certainly impacts their next. Said another way, one match can end a season. Just like one spoonful of sewage spoils a barrel of wine.

This is one of the sad truths of refereeing at the very highest levels, where one mistake, a single mistake, can close out an opportunity to do "the next game." Think about tournament play. Something happens to a referee in the "qualifying rounds" and they may get lucky to move forward. Anytime after that however, not likely. 

Don't believe me? Ask Koman Coulibaly.
Who? Yes. Exactly. FIFA still has him in their "witness protection program" more than (2) years later.

Trust me on this one too, as I have lived it.

Now, the further away one drifts from the highest level of The Game, the less likely mistakes of any type will adversely impact a career, as less experienced referees are expected to make mistakes as they learn. In fact I would opine they need to.

One sad fact is that the mistakes are generally all that is remembered. It was not the spectacular advantage a referee gave to allow the game winning goal. It was not the hair splitting offside decision to allow play to continue to force overtime. It is the "bad" call that cost the home team the game ... even if they were already down (3) goals in aggregate play. 

Randy's article does well to point out this fact as well as the (however anecdotal) statistic of 9::1 good to bad decisions. I actually believe it is much, much higher than that. Remember the decision to NOT call a foul is at time more critical than TO call a foul.

Long story short is that there is opportunity abound for someone to pour that spoonful of sewage into your match. Guard each jealously as to do otherwise invites more trouble than you need.

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