Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Get Serious, Or Go Home

As many of you regular readers know I have a high school age soccer player in the house named (for purposes here) "Jr." He is what I would call a serious soccer player in so far as he has committed to training for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week and there is a match or two in there as well. On at least one of his off days, he also referees youth matches.

Over the last month or so I have enjoyed watching his matches both that he plays in and that he referees. Many times we chat on the way to the pitch before he does referee and we talk about how he feels or what his goal is for the particular day.

Last weekend our conversation turned very frank in that he was really frustrated. As I probed the feelings a bit more, the main source of his frustration was how serious he takes playing and refereeing, only to have many of the referees who come out to his match, not take it seriously at all.

He was right.

In one match I saw a referee miss a goal line decision because he was standing in the midfield circle and essentially wore a path from one side of the circle to the other. In another match I witnessed the referee asking parents on a touchline for help ... truly asking for help with a decision. What recently took the cake for me was a referee when asked about a decision, stated his reasoning as "... because I said so."

This was when I turned to "Madame X", my ever patient wife, and asked out loud if she would mind if I got dismissed as a spectator from a match. I did not get an answer.

Trust me I get that there is a lack of good referees for all high schools at all levels and theoretically the best referees are doing the best matches (cough), but for the love of the game you have to at least try. Just try.

These kids are spending hundreds of hours in a season practicing and playing, and for a referee to not even try is pathetic. I'm not even saying to get it right all the time, or even most of the time, just make the effort. I'm not even sure if these folks even know how bad they truly are.

So what to do? Share with the league how terrible these referees are? Try to work one on one with them to get them to "step up?" Implement a system like in US Colleges where the coaches in essence choose who they want to referee their matches?

I dunno, but to allow such baboonery on a regular basis is criminal for the kids who are working hard to earn their playing time.

Next time you go out to do a match that you think will not be challenging ... challenge yourself to be "spotless." Perfect mechanics, perfect decorum, perfect decisions. In a sense practice "virtuosity" where some would call it the skill of performing the common, uncommonly well.

Above all, try your best, and if you can't do that, do us all a favor and just stay home.


  1. Nice story, Peter.

    And by the way -- you do NOT look old enough to be the father of a high-schooler :)

    1. Comment of the year!!! =)

      Thanks for reading Jeff!!