As a referee, I don’t know what it is that draws a certain type of person to my games.
Maybe these people have always been there – and by that, I mean players that have always been simmering under the surface and just needed the right catalyst to boil over.
Or maybe it’s the style of refereeing I do that brings out the “reactionary” player – players that just have to have the last word or argue with calls they don’t like.
I think it’s probably a combination of both – my “style” isn’t really a style, per se: I call the fouls the same everywhere on the field, anytime of game. If it’s a foul in the first minute, it’s a foul in the 89th. If it’s a foul in the center circle, it’s a foul in the penalty area. I’m not shy about it, and I make no apologies or excuses for it either.
I’ve had coaches tell me that they absolutely love the way I ref because (pick one) it forces teams to play on talent and coaching, rather than just bullish physicality; it eliminates the cheaters and hacks, the players that try to get away with as much fouling as possible when they think I’m not looking (protip: I’m always looking, and I make sure my trail AR is looking behind the play); it places the safety of the players as first; it allows for a much faster paced and wide-open game because I look to play advantage as much as possible, but I also don’t broker consistent attempts to slow down the “flow” of the game – the yellow card will come out for persistent infringement, and usually all it takes is one of those for the teams to know I mean business.
I also don’t broker dissent – I tell the kids straight away, “stop complaining,” and “zip it.” Players’ arguments are not going to change my call, all they are going to do is make me remember who they are.
Sunday was the last day of the AYSO Crossroads Cup, so I stepped in to ref a game while Dominic was performing volunteer hours. During that game, I had to send off a player (he earned not one, but two dissent cautions) who had identified himself early in the game as a referee! He took exception to the fact that his team was losing and a long shot on target did not end up as a goal (my AR was perfectly positioned and made sure I knew that the ball did not completely cross the line), so he began to verbally and demonstratively dissent. Not even 30 seconds later, time expired, so as he walked off the field, he turned and said very loudly “Ref, you suck!”, which earned him a 2nd caution and a send-off. Several of his regions’ referees were in attendance, and after I explained what had happened, they were very emphatic that they would ensure his region’s assignor knew of his conduct.
All in a weekend’s work, I guess!