Just a couple of thoughts as my coffee brews this morning.
- Why does Major League Baseball expect that all of their umpires will be at least competent at all four primary umpire positions? First base is a very different skill set than calling the plate, and second base has a different set of expectations and positioning than third base. Hockey, soccer, football all expect their highest end officials to specialize in particular positions and therefore hone their vision and expectations on a much smaller category of interactions. I know for soccer, the split between the assistant referee (flags) and center referee (whistle) happens as the official is working on their national badge/starting to do pro games where the players actually make enough to stay above poverty line. Soccer referees, at the highest levels, have a very different personality profile than their assistants as the centers/whistles tend to be much more comfortable with gray areas than the assistant referees who have a clear task (determine offside) as their primary mandate.
- I used up my annual quota of red cards this week. Two for DOGSO, one of which was extremely smart, the other stupid, one serious foul play, and a pair of violent conducts. The smart DOGSO had the player’s team up 2-1 with 3 minutes left and the opposing team had a beautiful corner kick enter the box. An attacker rifled a shot heading back post upper corner, until the defender leaped up caught the ball, hit the ground as I was hitting the whistle. The offender rolled the ball to me, and started jogging off the field. The attackers scored on the PK. It was a smart DOGSO as it reduced the goal probability from 100% to 70%. The offending team scored in overtime for the win.
- This fall is the first soccer season in a very long time where the money I make is not needed money, it is family extra money. That is changing how I schedule. I am learning that I can say no to really bad games that don’t pay all that well and the only thing I get out of the game is a check and a headache. I turned down some bad games this weekend so I could take my daughter to a birthday party. That was a much better use of my time.
- Game gearing is always a challenge on two fronts. The first is gearing down from doing high level games to youth games. A moment of contact in a college game that is “trifling” could legitimately be a cautionable offense at mediocre U-14. More importantly, the full array of tools in a referee’s bag aren’t available if the players and coaches don’t understand what you are trying to do. I got caught on this yesterday. I was reffing a U-14 match between two mediocre teams who were coached by someone’s Dad. I was trying to use a slow whistle to see if people could work through a foul, I was trying to man manage, I was trying to pro-actively referee on aerial challenges. The players had no clue what I was doing, and they started whacking each other as soon as they got touched instead of working for advantage. It took me about 20 minutes to realize that I was there to babysit and not to faciliate a safe, fair display of atheletic skill.