Parental Discretion Advised

Obama is a soccer dad! I think he’s probably more calm than most.

In my two months of refereeing kids’ soccer games, the most shocking bit I’ve come across has been behavior of parents.

I’ve already told you a bit about coaches, and I will tell you more later. But I’ve come to realize one important thing — soccer parents are completely insane.

I don’t know if they have visions of scholarships and MLS teams in the future or maybe it’s the heat getting to their brains, but sitting or standing on the sidelines of the soccer pitch seems to make them lose all sense of reality.

Some things I’ve overheard at soccer matches:

  • One of my first games, a U10 girls game, a child had the ball near the top of the goal box and was surrounded by the defending team. Dad behind me was screaming “Turn and shoot!” When the girl lost possession of the ball (because about eight defenders were taking it away) he said to someone nearby, “GAWD! Why didn’t she just turn and shoot?!” (Um, perhaps because she’s NINE! You’re lucky she can kick the ball in the direction she wants!) Also, the turn-and-shoot move is extremely difficult to do! I still have trouble with it.
  • Same game. I called an offside and I was wrong (I was still learning). The center ref was talking to me about why she wasn’t offside, when a parent screamed, “Learn the rules!” (I’m trying, jackass, that’s why I’m reffing a U10 game, not the World Cup! Also, they’re not rules, they’re laws.)
  • In one tournament, the fields we played on dropped off sharply behind one goal. So, usually, teams will put an extra ball behind the goal so that time is not wasted chasing the ball after each shot at the goal. This aggravated one dad to no end. He asked me if they could put a ball behind the goal. I said I’d have to check with the center ref. (It’s his field and the ball has to be checked first.) The ref never came over to my side and I never got a chance to ask him. At halftime, we were busy talking about other things. After halftime, the guy asked if I had asked him about the ball. “No, I didn’t get a chance.” By the middle of the second half, this guy was livid — about the ball running down a freaking hill! “Fine! I’ll go put the ball there!” (If you do, you’ll get into trouble for your team.) He didn’t, but I think the coach finally put one there, which is his job, not the parents’ or the referees’. The parent: “FINALLY!” (Really? That’s all you can find to complain about?)
  • “Yellow card!” This is shouted out regularly when a player for the opposing team commits a foul. In soccer, you don’t call every foul. First, because you allow the fouled team to continue if they keep possession of the ball — called advantage; and second, because you want to let them play. If you called every foul, the game would be stopped constantly, which is no fun for the players. But parents want every foul called. Also, around here, parents are used to watching basketball, where refs do call every foul.
  • “That was out!” This one also happens a lot because parents watch a lot of basketball. In basketball, the ball is out if your foot or the ball is even a little bit over the line. In soccer, the entire ball has to be over the line.
  • “He’s (she’s) offsides!” To me, this is the funniest for many reasons. Except for blatant offenses, you can’t tell if a person is offside (not offsides) unless you are right in line with the second-to-last defender. Parents, standing at the other end of the field, will scream that someone is “offsides” when they have no idea where the stinkin’ player is. Secondly, most parents have no idea what offside even is. It’s a very complicated process and call, and I’m not going to explain it right now.
  • “He’s an idiot!,” said to me about a center referee after the parent had been kicked out of the game. That’s a story for another time, but he was talking about a referee that has amazing credentials and is very far from being an idiot. I would even say he’s brilliant and his skills are something I aspire to have.
  • “Guys, you’re going to have to control this game because the referee certainly isnt!” This was utter nonsense said in a tournament. It was a U15 game in which the kids were practically beating the crap out of each other. The ref was doing everything he could to let the guys play, then he eventually had to throw out a player.

Parents get way too involved with their kids’ games. Sometimes, if I’m in a good mood, I’ll talk to the parents when I’m on the sidelines during lulls in the game. Some of them are really nice and have a good sense of humor about it all. But mostly, they’re awful. For a while, I never wanted to be on the parents’ side of the field. But then, I got to know some obnoxious coaches and was the butt of their tirades. Now I don’t care which side I’m on. Usually, I’ll choose the opposite of whatever side last abused me.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Buddy 'o Dill Dawg on June 11, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Kinda wierd. It’s kinda funny how everybody always wants to brutalize the referee
    when they themselves made the mistake. Ostensibly, this would be the easiest excuse
    one can make for one’s own faults or the faults of their kid.


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