Monday, October 8, 2012

Red Cards, Rules, and Attitudes (in other words, a soccer post)

It's no secret that all 3 of my kids play soccer.  A is in her 4th year, Ren his 2nd (and last) and CS is playing her first year of candy league.  Soccer is fun and my kids play through our local SAY organization.  Usually games are fun, exciting and the kids all have a good time.  This weekend was different.  A's game got WAY out of hand and it went downhill.  Quickly.

Here's what happened (and it includes last week too).  Last weekend A's team had a referee that didn't use her whistle.  At all.  This particular referee was also 10 minutes late to our game and then informed the coaches that she would cut a quarter from our game to "keep the games on schedule".  The coaches from both teams were like "um, no.  You were late.  That's not our fault and our girls will play their entire game".  Well, both coaches were yellow carded for disrespecting the referee (or something like that).  However, our game was played in full.

This week, the same referee was at A's game.  Guess who still had an attitude from last week?  Yup, the teenage ref.  Again, she wasn't using her whistle, so the girls didn't have a clue what was being called during the game.  They didn't know when to kick off (because she'd just stand there and tell them to go), what was a corner kick versus a goal kick, etc.  Basically, our girls won't stop playing unless a whistle is blown.  Even if the ball is out of bounds.  We are talking about 6-8 year old girls here.  They are learning still and part of the referee's job is to teach them.  Which is why they have jr. high and high school age kids doing this job.  It's still about fun at this age.

So, halftime ends on Saturday and the game starts the 3rd quarter.  The girls ran the ball down to the goal and when one of the girls shot for the goal it went wide and out of bounds.  Our girls weren't sure what was going on and the referee didn't blow her whistle.  She picked up the ball and placed it in the corner for a corner kick.  However, she didn't tell any of the girls what was going on and they were waiting for her to make a move.  That's when our coach yelled "Will you blow the whistle so the girls know what's going on?".  Well, that was it.  The referee immediately pulled out a red card and started yelling at our coach.  Our coach yelled back and it escalated from there.

Now, know that I'm not blaming anyone here.  Our coach should not have yelled back once the referee pulled out the red card.  However, a warning and yellow card are usually pulled out before a red card.  Anyway, the yelling got worse and worse.  It finally culminated in the referee yelling at our coach something that included the F-bomb.  Yup.  You just read that.  The teenage referee shouted the F-bomb on a soccer field that included parents, coaches and most of all 16 little girls.

Here's the deal.  There were many, many wrongs in all of this.  First off, the referee should have used her whistle.  Second, our coach never should have reminded her since she already had a chip on her shoulder from last week (yes, I do know this for fact because at one point she came off the field to her Mom and said something to her about how she couldn't believe she had to ref. for "that coach" again this week.  Her Mom was seated next to me). Once the red card was pulled our coach should have just thrown his hands up and gone to the soccer board members who were present at the fields.  There should never have been a shouting match between the coach and the referee, it's bad sportmanship.  The biggest thing that got to me was the dropping of the F-bomb.  All the other things the girls saw could be teaching moments about the value of being a good sport.  How not to allow your temper to get the best of you and why it's important to listen to the ref. even if she/he aren't using their whistle.  The potty language cannot be explained away.

Finally, it's a soccer game.  Yes, the girls are competitive and passionate about their sport.  Yes, the parents are cheering and rooting on the teams.  Yes, the referees are young and in most cases learning about the position of referee.

However, being a teenager doesn't give you an excuse to drop the F word.  Ever.  Those little girls are looking to you for guidance in learning a sport.  Not taking time to apologize to the parents and girls doesn't make it any better.  The referee did apologize to our assistant coach.  I just think she should have taken it a step further and used it as a teaching moment.   Our head coach took the time to apologize to the parents of both teams and the all girls before leaving the field.  He knew he'd gone to far and wanted to make sure we all knew.  He used that moment to teach the girls about it too.  I'm sure there will be more discussions from the head coach at practice this week.

Now, in personal ramifications, A is very upset by all of this.  We sat down with her Saturday evening and had a talk about what happened and her concerns.  She was worried she did something wrong.  She was also concerned with what will happen to her coach.  She said she still likes soccer, but hopes that particular referee isn't at any more of her games.  She said she scared her because of the way she yelled.  Basically, she internalized a lot of what happened.  Which was NOT. HER. FAULT. or any of the other girls on the field.  Ultimately, we used it to further teach her about good sportsmanship and help her understand why what happened wasn't the best of choices, but that sometimes things happen.

We're hoping it made a difference, but we won't find out until the game next weekend.


  1. Sounds like all could have been avoided had the ref used the whistle like she should have. Then all the other events may not have happened. Sorry the girls had to witness this....doesn't make it fun for anyone involved.

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