Monday, May 17, 2010

It's OK, Because the Player is Talented

I wasn't going to put in availability this weekend. My older son's team made it to the state cup quarter finals and my younger son's team had a tournament. I got an email from my assignor basically saying he was short of referees AND he had a number of older teams playing, so he needs some experienced officials. I relented and put in for Sunday after getting the OK from my son to miss his game.
Our scheduled had us doing a U-14 girls league game, a U-18 women's state cup game and a U-18 men's league game. The games are played a few towns over. I had worked with one of the other officials before. The other was new to me.
I ended up doing both of the U-18 games. To be honest, I was wondering how I was going to perform, doing two long, fast games, back-to-back. It turned out OK. I guess my conditioning is better than I thought!
The first game for me was the U-18 state cup game. I like doing these games because there is a little more pressure to perform well, and I think good officiating is noticed and appreciated in these games. Unfortunately, the game turned out to be rather one-sided. The winning team had some real skill.
The second game was the U-18 men. One of the ARs mentioned to me that he had the same team last week and ended up sending off a player. Great. As usual with the 18's, we had to wait for a little while for players to show up. Again, this turned out to be a one-sided game. The visitors had some really good ball-handling skills. In fact, they were kind of fun to watch. Unfortunately, when you have a team like that playing against a weaker team, you can almost guarantee some issues.
The first half was fairly clean. The 2nd half was when the home team's frustration started to show. I sensed it coming. The away team used their skills and really was showing up the home team. That's a warning sign. I had a hard tackle early in the half that I cautioned right away. I started to notice a pattern of fouls against one of the away team's midfielders. A few minutes later, there was another hard tackle on the same player. I immediately cautioned that one as well, this time for persistent infringement. At that point, the home team coach started in on me about the cautions. He actually implied that the rough tackle was somehow justified because this midfielder was "show boating." Really? That's the first time I had heard that one! Playing well may be annoying, but it's not an infraction in the Laws of the Game.
Another interesting comment I heard again demonstrated that perhaps the home team needs to review the LOTG. After getting up by 5 goals, the visitors started just kicking the ball around. The repeatedly took the ball into the corners and just stood there. One of the home team players pointed this out to me as time wasting. Again...Really? I politely suggested he go in there and challenge for the ball.
Adding time in a one-sided game is always dicey. Sometimes the losing side wants all their time. Sometimes you're better off just ending the game to prevent any more embarrassment. You have to get a sense of what is the best option for that particular game. In this game, one of the visitors went down with a leg cramp. To be honest, I'm not convinced it was real, but you it's hard to say. The home team actually asked me if I was keeping track of the lost time. They made it clear, they wanted to try to get a goal, so I added all the time at the end. Again, be aware of the atmosphere of the game before you add time in a lop-sided match.
Fortunately, the game ended without a major incident, although we did have 4 cautions.
I received an interesting comment from the visiting coach after the game. The league has an optional referee rating on their web page. He said he felt we really controlled the match well and wanted to make the league aware of us. That's always nice.