Bird Signs

April 2, 2007 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Back in school I remember reading about the use of birds in mythology to portend doom. I may be in big trouble, if the two dead birds lying side-by-side outside my office’s front door are any indication. That’s just what I need after a long day on the soccer field yesterday.

Have you ever had one of those days at work where you honestly feel like you’re doing your best—and your co-workers even back you up on that—and yet things still go to hell? I had one of those days yesterday. I reffed an adult soccer match that began smoothly, but ended in an ugly mess. By the end of the match I had issued four—FOUR—red cards to one team. They were for, in order: foul and abusive language; second caution (dissent and dissent); violent conduct; and foul and abusive language. I eventually abandoned the match when it became clear that playing the final five minutes wasn’t likely to achieve much, and could quite possibly get somebody hurt.

Afterwards, my assistants and I reviewed the match and we tried to come up with things we could have done to result in a different outcome. The only items we came up with were of the sort that would have required ignoring bad behavior. There are two problems with that: First, we already ignore a good chunk of “incidental” bad behavior in this league. We don’t sanction most swearing (as long as it is controlled and not directed at anybody) and we “don’t hear” most mild dissent. We sanction only what we have to sanction, and for the most part players and referees are in agreement on where the lines lie.

Second, it is a practically a truism that bad behavior unpunished leads to more (and worse) behavior. It is also true that a player who is angry at the referee often turns that anger into physical retaliation against an opponent. I’m not going to let a guy kill an opponent just because he doesn’t like my assistant’s offside call.

In short, despite our best efforts, we couldn’t come up with an alternative scenario in which we could have expected a better outcome. I hate those sorts of games. I haven’t had one for a long time, and to start out the adult season with one is a real bummer. On the other hand, unless one of my assistants or I can come up with a way that we could have prevented all or part of this mess, I’m not going to lose any sleep. I have learned over the years that some teams on some days just don’t want to play soccer.

Ugh, now I have to go finish up my report on the incident. Not fun.

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