Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Total Exhaustion

I put my availability in for a large, local tournament some time ago. I was assigned to a 4-person crew for both days of the tournament. Our field was scheduled for 18 games in two days! This would be a big test for me.
For the most part, we used what apparently is a standard rotation of having the person coming off a break take the referee position. Once you are done in the center, you move one touch line, then the other and then to break again. When it was all over, I ended up in the center 5 times and did 8 games as an AR. I really enjoy officiating games, but I'm not sure I'll be putting availability in for more than 1 day of a tournament. 2 days is just brutal, particularly if it is hot. Day 1 of this tournament was 90 degrees. Day 2 was much better, but it rained for the 2nd half of the day.

This tournament offered a huge number of experiences and observations. I'm not sure where to begin and suspect I will edit this particular post many times.

Shoes Make the Man

I'll start with something very basic, and that would be footwear. If you've been reading my blog, you remember that I have some problems with shoes in the past. I recently changed to the Spot Bilt studded shoe. The shoe is actually made by Saucony and features a running shoe upper and a turf tread. It works much better (for me) than a turf shoe designed for players as it provides additional support and is generally a sturdier shoe. These shoes have worked really well for me on a typical weekend where I'm assigned 1 to 3 games. They worked pretty well for the tournament too, but I still ended up with a couple of very ugly blisters. I cannot tell if it is the shoes, the socks I'm wearing, or some other variable. If someone can suggest a possible remedy, I'd sure appreciate it.

Match Control

Of the 18 games we worked over the weekend, we had several that had parents or coaches that "cared too much." In fact, we had one coach go ballistic over a "ball out of play" call in the first minute of a game. The call was made about 60 yards from his position. That one was bizarre. We also terminated a game that had 4 minutes left. A parent was harassing one of the ARs. When the referee confronted the parent, they became abusive. Game over. I bring these things up because there seemed to be a correlation between the person in the center, and these match control issues. Do not misunderstand what I'm saying, these are good referees, but I did notice a couple of things that I think might contribute to the issues they were confronting.

One of the referees seemed to have a noticeably introverted personality. In fact, when I first met him, I walked up and offered my hand as a greeting. He almost seemed to not know how to react. I barely heard his "hello." He is a really nice guy, but quiet and perhaps lacks some social skills. I found myself wondering if this resulted in some issues for him as he didn't strike me as authoritative on the field. His decisions seemed weak. I think this was a personality issue, not necessarily a confidence or knowledge problem.

The other fellow seemed to have problems resulting from his habit of wearing a hat and dark sunglasses on the field. Personally, if it is really hot and sunny, I am not going to criticize you for wanting to get a little relief by wearing a cap and the glasses. I will not do it because it is not part of the uniform and that would bother me. It seemed the glasses came up several times when parents were complaining about calls. Clearly, the glasses did not have an effect on this persons ability to make a proper call, but it does invite the criticism, doesn't it? I say lose the glasses and hat and give everyone one less thing they can use to criticize.

More Experience

Through the luck of our rotation, I did get a few more challenging games. In particular, I had a fairly high-level U-15 boys game that went real well. One of the other referees on the crew even complimented my match control after the game. I felt good about the entire game. I had a 2 other games around the same age level, although they were girls games. They weren't quite as challenging as the skill and aggression levels were a little lower, but clearly they were great experience.

I did have one minor issue that bothered me. I missed an offside flag in a later game on day 2. The defense recovered the ball. As I turned to head up field, I noticed the trailing AR with his flag up and blew the whistle before he could get the flag down. We had to bring a ball back 40 yards, essentially removing the advantage from the attacking team. Fortunately, they were up by several goals and did not make a big deal about it. The coach asked me about it after the game and I admitted I missed a flag. In hindsight, I should have probably called it an inadvertent whistle and given a dropped ball. At least that would have kept the ball in the attacking end of the field. To be honest, I am pleased that, even after all those games, I did not make any terrible mistakes. I managed to keep my senses keen and do a good job, so I guess that's something.

Problematic Player

In one of our games, there was a player who was problematic from the start. He had a knack for dissent and was giving the referee some problems early on. Not surprisingly, he earned himself a card about half way through the first half. I did not think he would make it to end of the game. He had several more fouls called on him in the first half. At the break, the opposite AR mentioned to the referee that this player made a insulting comment, with racial overtones, as he was coming off the field during a substitution. The first thing I thought of was she really should have pointed that out when it happened. Once the restart happened, I think it would be tough to sell a send-off for this player.

I had met this player's coach back in March at a tournament with my son. After the game, I waked over and asked to have a word with him. I related the story as I wanted him to be aware of the problem, especially the racial part of the comment. His reaction bothered me. He didn't really seem bothered by the comment and he said his boys are "just starting to learn," whatever that means. Some people's priorities seemed to be out of order.


Unknown said...

I cannot believe that you did /18/ games in two days. I'm not sure I understand assignors who think that referees can do so many games and still think straight (even taking into account the breaks).

Think about it: Teams, where the players are one out of eleven (or eight or whatever), only play four games over a weekend or so. What makes them think that referees can do much more than that?

I did my first tournament this weekend and had five games. I was doing well until my last game. Calf cramped hard and they had to get another referee to finish (U-12 and I didn't have an assistant to step into center, a different matter entirely).

It's great to read another starting referee though, and see the challenges you're facing. I hope you keep it up.

The Referee said...

I agree with you. I won't be scheduling myself for 2 days of a tournament anymore. It is too difficult. For the most part, my legs can take the running. The biggest problem I've had is with blisters on my feet. I can comfortably handle 5 tournament games a day, for a total of 10 over 2 days. That's my limit.
For the record, it was "only" 14 games in 2 days.