Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tolerating Poor Behavior

We are our own worst enemies.  I realized this during a tournament this weekend.  As decent people, we desire to please others.  This often conflicts with our position as referee.  It is true that when we make a decision on the field, we disappoint about half the people involved in that particular game.  However, we are obligated to make decisions that are supported by the LOTG, without regard to the popularity of that decision.
This weekend, I worked a local tournament.  I was crewed with 3 other referees.  They all have a great deal of experience and I respect their knowledge and abilities.  We had 2 incidents that I observed that illustrate the point I made above.
First, in a U-12 game, we had a situation that instigated a conversation about Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity by Foul.  A ball was played to a player near the top of the penalty area.  The player dribbled straight at the goal, unopposed.  in the middle of the penalty area, he beat the goalkeeper who immediately pulled the player down from behind.  The ball was at the player's feet.  He was heading directly to the goal and he had no other defenders in his way.  In this particular situation, the attacker's team mate put the ball in the net before the referee stopped play.
I was off that game.  I joined into a conversation between AR 1 and the referee as they were coming off the field.  The AR was making his point that, had the ball not gone into the net, the goal keeper clearly had denied a goal scoring opportunity and had to be sent off.  In the case of what actually happened, the goal keeper should have been cautioned.  The referee was making the case of the players only being 12 and was saying he would have a tough time sending off in this situation.  I agreed with the AR.  The player had to go had the goal not been scored.  I pointed out to the referee that had the players been, say U-17, he would clearly have no problem sending off the goal keeper.  I also pointed out the LOTG is clear and makes no reference to age.  My suspicion is the referee was uncomfortable with dishing out a severe punishment to a young player.  However, this is an obligation of our position as referees.
The other situation involved a coach behaving badly.  One of our crew had to leave early so a replacement was sent to our field.  The rotation of the crew put a relatively inexperienced referee on a U-12 game.  Having seen this referee work before, I felt he'd have no problem with the game itself.  However, we had heard that the coach of one of the teams was a notorious problem in the technical area.  AR 1 was a very experienced referee.  I was AR 2.
I observed this coach starting problems in the technical area shortly before the half.  The referee went over and spoke with him at least twice.  At half time, AR 1 commented that the coach must be dismissed if he continues.  The referee seemed to agree.  Shortly into the second half, the coach was causing problems again.  From my vantage point, I could only see the referee and AR 1 speaking with both coaches.  I could not assess the severity of the situation.  I was told later that AR 1 advised the referee to dismiss 3 times.
If a referee fails to deal with poor behavior in the technical area, it will not be long before the teams on the field start to misbehave.  That is exactly what happened in this game.  Not only was the coach a problem, his team starting acting out as well.  The cautions started.  The referee was losing control.  Fortunately, we got through the game.  However, because this coach was never dismissed, he will continue his behavior at other games and cause problems for other referees.
We must deal with irresponsible behavior firmly and quickly.  Remember, when behavior is a problem, the coaches are not your friends and your action is not a conversation or debate.  The poor behavior must cease immediately or the personnel must be dismissed.  The "Ask, Tell, Dismiss" policy has always worked for me.  See the "Ask, Tell, Dismiss" video here.


LBprGuy said...

Nice seeing a new post from you in the RSS feed. We have a division leader in our AYSO region who always is pushing the limits with the referees; always feel like I have to get him back in line whenever I'm on his games just for the sake of the other volunteer officials.

Brian said...

It seems like the CR got the call almost right in your U-12 game - although a clear DOGSO-F was committed, the attacking team retained advantage for an easy goal. The GK should have been cautioned though.

Wes said...

Glad to see you back on! I agree with you on both points. For DOGSO and really any type of misconduct, the players cannot learn what is cautionable or send-off worthy if they are not cautioned or sent off went they commit misconduct. Referees have a duty for the good of the game to leave their personal feelings on how to handle misconduct, especially at the younger age levels. If it's DOGSO, then it's red card, regardless of age. It's the only way these kids will learn the LOTG and punishments.

Anonymous said...

What should be the proper response to poor officiating? Three times this season I have sent players to the hospital because of serious hard fouls that have occured during the match. Not once has a whistle been blown for the foul, no kick has been awarded and no oppossing player was talked to. At what point is poor officiating discussed? I got my first caution in 10 years of coaching after my second player was sent to the hospital. I was pissed and told the official he was garbage, because he is.

By the way. It is insalting to coaches when the first thing out of an officials month is about money. They would gain a lot more traction with coaches if they asked about the players, the season and if we had any questions. Also it would be nice for officials to talk to coaches about decisions they make, so that we can address our teams.

The Referee said...

Since I am not at your games, I cannot say whether you are seeing poor officiating or not. That said, game day is almost never the right time to deal with your concerns. You will almost never get anywhere, particularly if you are already angry.
You say that you have had 3 occasions where players have been injured. Did you go to the league administration after the first incident to talk about the officiating? That would be my advice.
Telling someone they are "garbage" is not very constructive and certainly won't get you anywhere. Perhaps that person is a poor referee. Perhaps they are new. Perhaps they are having a bad day. In any case, being insulting will get you nowhere but sent from the field.
On a final note, if you are truly concerned for the safety of your players, pull them from the field. You must have the courage of your convictions though as this will get you in big trouble with most leagues if they don't agree with your decision.

Anonymous said...

I had this happen to me in a U-11 select match. Red team was getting beat 6-0. White player collects the ball outside the center circle and is making a charge with only the keeper to beat. Red player comes in with a hard tackle using his elbow to the back of the white player taking him down. Was it intent on hurting him? No, but it was a DOGSO in my opinion no question. One of my linesman (young kid) told the coach I was wrong to which the coach took to my assignor complaining. My assignor backed me up quoting exactly what you did, the laws do not tell us about age.

Unknown said...

This is a great blog! I've been a district referee here in Canada. After being a player for most of my life, transitioning into reffing has been great. The keeper definitely needed to be cautioned, at least, cards can often be used as a learning tool. especially with a younger age group.