Letter: A call for referees to take back control of the game

To the Editor:

In my opinion, soccer referees do not have an envious job. They have to keep up with speedy kids, they have to put up with parents yelling at them for no-calls, too many calls, missed calls; they’re expected to see every move of every player at every corner of a large pitch. All that said, these referees are getting paid to do a job for which they signed up — and this job is not just to keep time. 

After watching (un-silently) from the sidelines at both boys and girls games for the last five years, I feel that some referees are increasingly operating under a no-call mandate — especially at the girls games. Not calling fouls is dangerous for the game and obviously dangerous for the players. As soon as a player knows that her “stiff-arm” or her elbow check is not going to be penalized, she may feel that it’s an invitation to escalate the bad behavior. At the same time, the opposing player may feel the urge to retaliate and to “let’s see what I can get away with.” What happens next is that the fouling can become more and more egregious until a player(s) ends up injured (or a fight ensues).

There is a lot of undue pressure on these kids to win — from the over-enthusiastic parents, to the coaches, to the pressure that the kids put on themselves. During these fast-paced, “action-packed” games, adrenaline is pumping and moods are tense; but in the face of all of this, it is the referee’s job to maintain standards of play and to ensure that game rules are observed in order to keep order in the game. Allowing fouls to occur and to escalate does not achieve any of these goals.

Yes, I’m aware that stopping for fouls (especially nitpicky ones) interrupts the flow of the “beautiful game,” but as a mom who is reading more and more about the long-term effects of repetitive traumatic injuries, keeping my kids safe is my paramount goal.

Karen Blackman

Kiln Hill Lane