Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Play the Whistle

I have played soccer for over 30 years and along with basic soccer skills, I have learned:
1) Play with your head and elbows up,
2) Always put a name on the ball,
3) Do not be afraid of the ball,
4) The ref is always right, and
5) Always play the whistle.

My involvement in sports has also taught me the importance of team work, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat (can you picture that poor skier that aired during the 1980's CBC Sports montage?), and sportsmanship.

Last night at soccer the opposing team got past our defence and there was a kerfuffle in front of the net. I made a sprawling save - or what I thought was a save. Within nano-seconds the ball was cleared and it appeared that play was continuing - there was no whistle.

The other team was yelling that it was a goal, but the ref allowed play to continue all the way to half...until he looked at me and saw me tangled in the net and unable to free myself. (can you picture orka stuck in a fishing net, then, you get the picture). The ref stopped play and I honestly thought it was because I was incapacitated. Instead he motioned for a goal. While the other team celebrated, many on our team were protesting.

The ref asked me if the ball. I replied it could not have been all the way over the reasoning...there was no whistle. Now in soccer, the ENTIRE ball must cross the line for the goal to count. Perhaps it did, perhaps it did not...but in my mind, the referee's job is to be in the right spot to make the right call - not to second guess himself AND then ask players for their opinion. Whatever call he makes is the right call, but he must stick to his call.

Yes, refs are human. Yes, this is an Over 30 Rec League. But, a ref is paid to do his job, not ask for the input of players and then change his mind. I have no respect for refs doing this type of officiating. (nor if they do not call illegal throw-ins, but that is a whole separate vent!) they need to be decisive.

I mentioned that through my involvement in sports that I have learned sportsmanship. I hold that quality in high degree. I am the first to encourage the most sportsmanship thing to do. So then, should I have fessed up that the ball did, I mean "probably" crossed the line? To me, sprawled over the ground, I just kept playing and assumed "no whistle, no goal".

Now my defender (an extremely talented player & friendly gal) confessed that (from her angle) the ball had crossed the line and therefore, and was a goal. I applauded her honesty and her decisiveness - personality traits and attributes that I highly respect. But I think if the situation should happen again (and sadly, it will), I will once again plead ignorance and leave it to the ref to call...and I will only stop playing when the whistle blows.

And as I always say after a goal, "Odd's 0-0, let's win this half!"

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