Saturday, October 08, 2005

soccer dad

Today my son's soccer team played an away game against a team from Mercer Island. Their league has enough money to pay an adult referee and two linesmen even at the Boys Under-13 level, which is unusual.

One might be tempted to think that kids from such a high-rent area (average home price: $1.1 million) would have high-class manners. One would be wrong -- they were a bunch of little wretches. They swore at our kids, committed blatant fouls, and stomped and complained when whistled for infractions.

The high point was when my son went after the ball in front of their goal toward the end of the game. Their goalie dived for the ball and collected it. David tried to jump over him, but banged him in the back of the head with his knee. Now, this could draw a whistle if the referee feels it happened because a player was not in control of his body or was playing in a dangerous way. But:
a) it's also part of playing goalkeeper -- that kind of accidental contact happens to David all the time when he plays goalie; and
b) the referee didn't call it as such.

Anyway, the way this goalie dealt with it was to turn around and take my kid by the throat with both hands. (This is the same goalkeeper who 5 minutes earlier chased down one of our players and shoved him in the back after the player beat him to the ball -- no whistle.)

While their goalie was busy choking my son, one of their defenders squatted on the ball two feet from the goal line and held it between his knees, leaving two of our strikers to stand there helplessly, unable to kick the ball for fear of kicking the player.

Eventually, there was a whistle. The referee conferred with the linesman (who later confessed to our coach "I don't know what the ref was talking about"), talked to the goalie who put his hand to his head and pointed at David. The ref called my son over and gave him a lecture, said offhandedly to the goalie "Don't do that any more", and awarded a free kick to their team.

No yellow/red card or free kick/PK for choking my kid; no red card for DOGSO* -- or even a yellow -- for dangerous play (squatting on the ball is illegal, as is any playing of the ball while you're on the ground) -- just a free kick for something it appears the ref never even saw, but called based on the verbal account of the other goalkeeper.

Needless to say, I was not impressed. Even accounting for the fact that my view is bound to be biased because it was my kid, I fail to see how you could come up with such a bizarre ruling.

David took it well, but after the lecture and subsequent free kick by their team, I could see him blinking tears out of his eyes. Then a minute later, he and another player collided and fell to the ground together -- the referee gave the home team the free kick and lectured my son again. Now, I played this game for 10 years, I have coached and refereed -- I know what a foul looks like, and that wasn't it.

Anyway, when the coach subbed David out a few minutes later, he started to cry. (David, I mean, not the coach ;-) And I felt bad for him -- I could feel his frustration -- but I told him I wouldn't have wanted him to play any differently than he had, and that he had done a good job accepting the ref's ruling and getting on with the game. The coach hugged him and told him he had done a good job.

Afterward, David said that during the handshake he told the other goalie that he was sorry. The other goalie smiled and said "No hard feelings."

No, wait, that's what I wish had happened. What actually occurred was that David apologized, and the other goalie turned around, glared at him, and snarled "***hole".

In other news, we won the game, 3-2.

*Denying an Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity


At Sun Oct 09, 10:14:00 PM PDT, Blogger jay are said...

unbelievable. unreal. it's scary to think of these kids as teenagers and adults. After I'd be done wanting to kill the goalie, I'd hopefully then feel sorry for him that he has to be him and live with himself for the rest of his life.

At Thu Oct 13, 06:52:00 PM PDT, Blogger unca said...

Good Grief. I guess all this stuff teaches kids valuable lessons such as life is unfair but you deal with it, you need to respect authority figures even if they've made honest? mistakes, etc. but another part of me thinks that maybe the kids would be better off playing pickup games rather than being exposed to the obvious societal biases, etc. that appear to be going on here.

At Fri Oct 14, 12:05:00 AM PDT, Blogger Erik said...

wow, that's garbage. i think if that happened to me, i'd cry too. i mean now, like if i was in an adult league. anyway, you didn't need to know that.

congratulations for not going soccer-dad crazy on the ref and the coach of the other team, because i would've been tempted.

At Fri Oct 14, 11:10:00 AM PDT, Anonymous si said...

As I told you, I wouldn't have blamed you if you had gone out on the field & kicked the crap out of the kid/ref/coach etc. It makes you wonder about affluence & its affect on kids' attitudes (we definitely have it here too). Glad that your son has a sense of decency. Also glad that your team won!

At Wed Oct 19, 11:07:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

For the record:
I'm told the goalie from the Mercer Island team was "written up" after our game with them -- meaning his name was recorded with the league office. I'm given to understand that if he commits another act of Unsporting Behavior, they kick him out of the league...


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