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Question Number: 24588

Character, Attitude and Control 2/15/2011

RE: High School

Dave of DM, IA U.S. asks...

This question is a follow up to question 24564

In reference to question 24564.
Do you feel that fans or coaches should be addressed when the yell 'push em' back' when their player is the recipient of a fair charge?
Do you view this as urging the player to escalate the situation.
What about 'call them both ways ref'?
How do you handle these comments?
Have any clever comebacks we could use?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Sometimes these comments can be addressed informally. I had one call from the sideline to do something illegal, and I spoke directly to the player being instructed: 'We both know that wouldn't be a good idea, don't we?'

'Call it both ways' is a form of dissent. Decide how that has to be addressed in the context of the game in order to keep control. Sometimes you can ignore it, sometimes you can just say, 'That's enough, coach.' And I heard one story where the referee responded by pointing in both directions! Other times you may need to resort to a formal warning and reporting of the coach. This is equivalent to a caution for a player, but no cards are shown unless your league directs you to do so; I believe NFHS does use cards for coaches.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dave
My advice to referees is not to get involved with spectators. If the referee feels that spectators are affecting the game then get the home team officials to deal with the issue.
As regards coaches urging players to break the laws my advice is to use the Ask, Tell and Remove Process. The process is good advice for all officials to follow relative to the conduct within the technical area.
lf a situation arises where there is irresponsible behavior the referee will ASK the person/s to stop.
lf there is another occurrence where there is irresponsible behavior the referee will inform that person that the behaviour is not permissible and TELL them (insist) to stop
lf the non-acceptable behaviour continues the referee may REMOVE that person immediately from the techical area.
As regards clever comebacks it is not a good idea to engage in this manner. I would certainly deal with players on the field of play either with clear advice or through the caution process. If I believe that a comment is deserving of a caution for dissent then that is what it gets. If I need to speak to a coach I will come across and in a firm fair manner say that his behaviour is unacceptable and that he must desist from that. The coach will probably make a comment about the non calls or why he is shouting. Again I ignore that by sticking to the behaviour not the reason for it.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The referee's objective is to influence proper behavior. We do it by encouraging the better angels in our players and coaches, and in dealing appropriately with the devilish ones.

The better angels blossom when we act with respect, and with steadfast joy. Firm, but fair. Put downs, though clever, too often result in anger and humiliation - - the soil that feeds incivility. In my experience, the first words that pop into my head are usually the wrong ones.

Ignore that which isn't affecting the players and deal quickly with that which does. My sense is that most problems in the match are the result of the failure to act sooner. A light early touch will often save the stronger tools for the few matches in which there aren't any angels around. The old saw is correct in my experience: a caution in the first half can save three in the second.

"Call them both ways" always gets my goat. I once umpired a little league baseball game. I called the first pitch of the game a ball. A dad from behind yelled, "call them both ways." Ignoring all of my training about ignoring the crowd, I turned towards him and said, "at least wait until the second pitch." When parents from both teams laughed, I knew it was going to be a good day.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I don't much care what fans say. If a coach is saying anything to incite violence he or she will be dealt with quickly. I once had a coach scream 'take her out' to his defender when an attacker with ball was one on one with the keeper. His defender had better sense than to listen to her coach who after the goal was scored was asked to leave the field and it's surrounding area as he clearly was telling one of his players to hurt an opponent.

The worst thing a coach can say to me, and for the life of me I do not understand why coaches don't get this, is 'Call it both ways ref.' That clearly tells me the coach thinks I am cheating, that I am not being neutral, and he may as well just call me a liar. I don't have a cleaver comeback for this.

I did have a coach yell at me once 'You're missing a good game ref' to which I replied 'I know but I was assigned THIS game'. Not sure if I had heard another referee say this or not, but I liked it. So did the coach.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Hopefully one isn't using 'cleaver' comebacks as that will probably call in the police, but I agree with my colleagues that smart aleck remarks usually are just more trouble being poured in one's ear.

Even so, sometimes a sense of humor can go a long way toward reducing tensions. Just be sure of the audience and the delivery. If it is seen as humiliating or demeaning, it's not funny.

All referees have funny comeback stories. My favorite occurred while I was watching a FIFA do an U19 B game at a tournament. A player was trying to give the ref a hard time about this or that call. In a voice everyone in the vicinity could hear (although she was not shouting), she said 'I'll be here for 90 minutes. Will you?' My, my he got quiet. I on the other hand was rolling on the ground in laughter!! Wish I had a picture of his face!

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

I think the essential take home message from all of the above comments is it depends on the situation and how you and your personality can best deal with the situation for optimal results. Said another way, there is no one right answer. I have used just about every approach mentioned above at one time or another. Sometimes I achieved good results and other times I generated an escalated situation for which a lesson was learned by me and modifications made for the next time around. Essential to all of this is for you to consider your audience and who YOU are. There are approaches I will use with European players which I would never use with Latino players and vice-versa as the message received by the players/coaches would be very different for some potential 'approach'. But at the core of anything you do on the field it has to reflect who you are and hence be sincere. Insincerity is perceived in a heartbeat (otherwise know as 'fake') and they will eat you alive. Work with experienced refs, study how different countries and cultures approach the game and you will have some major tools in your 'bag of tricks' for effectively communicating with players/coaches and achieving positive outcomes. All the best,

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