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Question Number: 32457

Mechanics 5/19/2018

RE: Competitive Under 17

Max of Maple Grove9, Minnesota USA asks...

Hey all,

Just got back from a 19 year old girls game as an AR.
The center ref had a more laid back style of letting the players set the tone and only calling the fouls where someone would get pushed down. Unfortunately, most of the fouls happened in the middle of the field and on the opposite side I was on, so I couldnt make many calls. This presented two problems:

1) The temperature of the game rose to the point where we had a few spectators hollering "are you kidding me ref?!" as well as the players and coaches questioning the center as well. How would are we supposed to enlist the coaches help to make the spectators be more respectful if the coaches agree with them?

2) A player from each team got injured, and Im convinced that this is because the center ref let the game get out of hand by letting the fouls go because it would end up going both ways. Would it be better in those instances of back and forth shoving to just call the foul and risk not going to the more victimized team?

Thanks for you help,


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Max,
the ONLY solution for a good league is INVOLVEMENT from all participants. . There seems to be far too much separation between officiating as a separate entity to be combated against instead as a necessary part of a neutral match. The concept of reasonable behaviour is NOT voided just because a referee is not the sharpest crayon in the box on a given day. That conduct BY THE WAY is MANDITORY for coaches & players & spectators at YOUTH events assuming there is a CODE OF CONDUCT signed at the season start up? So too a frank, all party discussion about WHAT & HOW to deal with issues at the season start, again midway and again at the end.

Referees who are lax are simply lazy, where as if they are easy going, that maybe a great character trait in getting along and operating at a stress free level. IF a referee is inattentive, selfish, unwilling to accept input or piratical , obnoxiously & self assertive neither function well in games for very long . An evil uneducated referee will not want to change but an inexperienced or broken one CAN be fixed. It is the duty of the assignor to match the level of play with a referee of equal knowledge & experience. There are many grades on the learning curve but foul recognition and man management is a learned art form.

First off DID you have a pregame talk with the referee?
Did you talk again at the half?
Did he willingly accept your flags and input as valuable?
Did you have a post game or did you all run to the car and leave?

One signal I use to help a referee is based on the referee being attentive to his or her ARS. Maintaining eye contact, thumbs up, communicates effectively? I grab my throat and shake my head when I get eye contact trying to discreetly say, 'Get grip on this game it is spiraling out of control!' Have a PRIVATE conversation, (wave him over) do not make known your discomforts or publically show your disapproval it simply cascades the ugliness. Yes we can SAY its the Referee's match . His decision His reputation but the idea of a team of officials IS what we should be striving for . If those of us cannot discus the good & t bad without fear of ridicule or recriminations we have NO business in the game officiating

. If he is FAILING the match, safety is being compromised , dissent is a like a sweeping forest fire that escalates to burning out of control once players are limping off the FOP he needs the information. Whether a referee can accept critical evaluation within the game depending on his attitude & comfort levels. As ARs we are to support him and try to get him the help he needs by doing your best to control your own responsibilities & get the CR the information he needs to make informed decisions. WE can disagree with the CR methodology but we still do our best to support his decisions.

You need to record and report bad experience's not JUST to criticize but to ensure problems are addressed! Just be aware to be specific, the league must also consider sour grapes as much a sour performances'. There should be assessments and monitoring but PRACTICALLY, resources an time are certainly factors. Video footage can be useful . I have seen referees stab other referees in the back and detest their actions. Political aspirations and advancement usually comes at someone's expense! I have also seen very astute analysis and advice that was critical information to be rejected out of hand by those too pigheaded or over confident of their own abilities. These moments are rare but

In answer to you 2nd query. In all matches we have what we call CI moments.(Critical Incidents) If we miss those moments we generally fail the match expectations and the harder the match becomes .WE can fight to get it back as most of us realize when things are not going well. It is likely the tolerance for foul play shown by the referee was greater than the acceptable level the players were willing to endure. It ALWAYS good to recognize & call serious fouls. No one should be playing in an environment where their safety is jeopardized. We use a cam down clampdown approach if it becoming apparent way to much frustration & animosity is occurring. It will usually involve calling most anything from bad breath to leaning in with body odour and or a chat with the captains to let them know enough is enough & spread the word.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Max
Referees generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.
So your perception was at odds with the CR who for whatever reason had a differing view from others involved in the game. That can be caused by factors such as inexperience, lack of ability including foul recognition etc. It can be caused by a poor attitude to the game although my experience is that it is reasonably rare. The more likely situation is that the skill level of the referee is not aligned to the standard of the game. In the referee pyramid one hopes that the game allocations matches the grades and abilities within those grades
Hollering spectators are nothing new to the game. Any high level game will attract howls of disagreement with refereeing decision that do not go the way of their team. The decision is met with an equal amount of agreement on the other side.
Now we have all been at games as an AR where we do not agree with certain decision in a game. Only yesterday in a final which was officiated very well there were a few incidents where I did not agree with the CR. Probably a card or two that might have been given and a dropped ball for what I thought was a foul. Ultimately it was the CRs game to officiate and my job was to assist him. I thought at one time the level of frustration was on the rise by the team getting well beaten and I told the CR at half time which he agreed with. We agreed that he would take sterner action to quell that frustration which he done with an early caution.
I am not sure there is not much that can be done really in the circumstances you describe. If I am on the technical side I will do my best to quieten the benches and ask them to act responsibly by talking with them when I have the opportunity which can be very limited.
As to managing fouls in a game an experienced official will know when the unwanted temperature of the game is rising and how to take steps to quell that. It can be adopting a zero tolerance on the most minor of fouls with everything called. When I have to do this in a game I then begin to hear shouts among the players of *Stand Up*, *No foul* *We need to stop giving away fouls*. I know then the action of squeezing fouls out of the game is working when I see that with players backing out of challenges and communicating between each other.
I think the best help is to talk the game through with the referee if he is up to that and explain your thoughts and suggestions to him. If he is interested in progressing he will engage on that. If not then perhaps it is a matter of sharing your thoughts with the local observer. That may trigger some game observations which can inform the leagues etc the level of game that matches the referees skill level.

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