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The Soccer Sidelines

131 EpisodesProduced by David DejewskiWebsite

Join Coach Dave on the sidelines as he brings you in on what’s going on behind the scenes and the stuff that really matters in youth sports. Understand the game, development, and ways you can support your young athlete at home!


#53 – Bad Referees

How Would You Deal With a Bad Referee?I had occasion to find out how I would deal with a bad referee this weekend. It didn't go as well as I would have liked What would you do if you were faced with a bad referee situation?  What is a Bad Referee?If you've been following this show for any real time, you know I usually side with the referee. They've got a really tough job and I think as a general rule, we put way too much pressure on yellow or green shirt-wearing officials. However, there are times and circumstances that call for our action. In this article, we will explore one that happened to me this past weekend. I think it's wise to start by defining "bad referee" a little. Being unclear about this point can get us into trouble. When I say "bad referee," I don't mean a referee who makes a call I don't agree with. I'm not a referee. I'm not qualified to judge the abilities of another referee. What little bit I've walked in the shoes of referees (mostly as an assistant referee running the sidelines or as an unofficial referee of a scrimmage game in my in-house league), I've learned I don't want the job. It's HARD!The number of things a real referee needs to keep track of is amazing to me. They not only follow the rules, have to anticipate, position themselves at the correct angles, have to read a confluence of actions - but they have to do it all in seconds and make a call. Believe it or not, a lot of a referee's call is not merely about fairness, but also about safety. An event that might not draw a yellow in one context, might draw repeated yellows in another. When a ref senses that he or she needs cooler heads to prevail - or to slow a game's momentum, or to nip a growing problem in the bud before it blossoms into an injury later in a game - he or she uses judgement and experience to guide them and interpret the game in a way that results in not only a fair outcome, but a safe one. Safety on the field for a referee is a priority.I suppose when I use the words "bad referee," I'm referring more to a bad set of circumstances that leads to ineffective referees. The calls they make are less important to me than the fact that they are making calls and keeping the game clean, within generally acceptable rule boundaries, and with good margin of safety for my players. As a coach and soccer parent, a string of injuries is a good indication that something is not working with the referee "system." A "referee system" in the context of this past weekend, refers to three referees in an 11v11 full sided HS aged game. What Happened to Inspire this Episode?Injuries, as I mentioned earlier are my first and best clue that something is not working with the referee system. We left the field on Saturday with 4 player injuries. Most of them were from cleats leaving cuts and bruises on my players legs and, in one case, his mid-section. Injuries like the one you see to the right are pretty common in the game of soccer. They can be accidental (most of these are) or deliberate - this one likely was. You can see the marks from cleats showing where the offending players stomped the injured player's ankle. This one left a nice bruise. The difference between accidental and deliberate is one judgement a referee is called upon to make. When injuries like this end up on a player's mid section, there should be greater suspicion that deliberate aggression is going on. The next clue for me is bad behavior. Physically benign, but offensive behavior like cursing in a way that is hurtful or disrespectful to other players or officials raises my eyebrow. When I see cursing and injuries stacking up, my hair begins to bristle. This is stuff I expect referees to be on top of - and coaches to be on top of for their respective teams. Let's Add a Few More IngredientsMy team was playing in a High School band age group. This means kids can be anywhere from 14 to 18 years old. In this particular game, most of my players were 15 years old,

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