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Ref Bashing

Pendley Smith 5/15/2000

Ref Bashing - Pendley Smith

Letter submitted in response to Editorial posted on April 26, 2000 "By Victor Matheson"

I can offer several suggestions that can help with the problem of referee abuse, most are contingent on the support of the local and or state soccer association.

First and sometimes the most affective is and educational program instatuted by the local soccer association which offers information on the laws of the game in conjunction with strict support for the referees. This will intale the association publishing information and dispensing it through the coaches to the parents or at regestration. The coaches are to be informed at draft that they are responsible for the behavior of the parents and players at their games and that they will be accountable for their behavior as well as their own behavior. Coaches will not be allowed to arbortrailly decide who referees their games. That is the Assignor's job and he and or the referee co-ordinator will observe the referees who's compantcy is in question. My experience is that if the coach is constantly berating the referee then the parents will follow suite. In our association we start our new referees out doing Referee Assistant positions @ the U-10 recreational level first. When we decide that they have become at least semi-competent at this we will let them do the same at higher levels or do a round of Center Referee with experienced referees for assistants.

Then and only then will we let them do U-8 referee which we do with only one referee. We use a mentoring type program to ease them into the rest of our soccer program.

When one of our board members is at the games and observes a coach or parent giving referees, especially the younger ones, a hard time we try to get them off to the side and advise them to refrain from doing so. Quite often it is also recommended that they attend the next certification class so that they can learn the laws of the game and them many complexities involved in making a call. You would be surprised how these simple actions help to calm most parents down.

The other suggestion can either be implemented by the State Assn or the local one. A sportsmanship program that involves the spectators, coaches, and players can be one of the most effective program ever for the whole association. There is a model one used by some of the associations located around Atlanta. I beleive it was developed by the RYSA or the TYSA association. Each team is evaluated during and after each game played. The team, coaches, and spectators are evaluated on the scorecard in many areas including the sportsmanship of all concerned, how the cheer for all the players on the field, not coaching from the spectator side of the field, coaching using positive pointers, not belittleing the players or referees before,during or after the game, and last but not least how they leave the field; did they clean up the area afterwards of cups and empty bottles or tape. I am positive you can obtain information on this program from Ga Soccer Assn at At the end of the season or year the team with the best sportsmanship score receives an award for each player on that team and my understanding is that this award is really played up and is prized as highly as being in first place at the end of the season. This program offers many strong points not the least of which is the decreased amount of referee abuse. This program is used at Georgia state recreational tournament and I have been priviledged to be the assignor and a referee for 3 years at a regional venue of this tournament and the last 2 years this sportsmanship program has been used at this tournament and I can attest to it. The only time we have problems is when it comes to the Championship game which is not included in the sportsmanship points and the fans are more trouble in these games than in all the other games put together in spite of the fact that we use our best and most experienced referees on these games.

Hope these suggestions help.

Pendley Smith

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