Can you feel it?

Well, it’s May 21, and I am still here, at least at 6.30pm, DST in the United States of America. So, let me try to be creative, while I can.

I’ve just returned home after a long day of soccer: very little activity on my part, other than trying to help with coaching my first grader’s team at noon. Most of the soccer ‘activity’ was spent with my first-born daughter, who came to watch her little sister, then had to play a game at Gallaudet University, then head back to Northern Virginia to referee youth soccer. She had also coached a teenage girls’ team earlier in the day. That’s how it is for her on weekends during the soccer season. She has taken my passion for soccer to different and wider fields. She is passionate about what she does, so I should not be surprised.

Her feelings about issues are often intense, and she rants well, freely, thoroughly and frequently. She was giving me her views–intensely, of course–on soccer referees, and came up with a great phrase: If you fail to try, you succeed at failure. That sounds like a launching pad for a career she has yet to have, her current job notwithstanding. I think she will make a great advocate, for someone and something.

Being a referee means more than just administering the game. For the younger children, you have to also fill in for what coaches do not know about the rules of the game. You also end up being a figure of real and moral authority. During her game this afternoon, she spoke to one player about his use of foul and abusive language–just an oral warning, though the FIFA rules state that this is a red card offence, meaning the player concerned should be ejected from the field of play. The US Soccer Federation and her local youth association have modified the FIFA rules. This creates grey areas where things were quite clear. A part of her would love to apply the full set of FIFA rules. She would certainly then be subject to tears, parent and coach objections, questions from her local soccer association, or some other criticisms. So, she follows the instructions, then argues the case with me in the car.

In this instance, would leniency to a 12-year old boy mean that when he is in his teens he has had his behaviour endorsed enough for it to be hard to get him to accept being curbed? Judging by the reaction of his mother–not a word–when he came off the field and continued swearing–albeit in German–his behaviour has sufficient backing at home. We know that one problem of human interaction is that we do not come to situations from the same viewpoints. You will be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, in someone’s eyes.

Credit to my first-born. She wanted feedback today on her playing and later on her refereeing, and I gave it ;-). She’s also sought feedback on her coaching, and I’ve given that too ;-). We do not see things the same, and I always try to remind her about personal perspective, the possible contrary view from others’ perspective, and trusting your own judgement. As a referee, for example, you can only make calls as you see them, and your internal logic will always defend your decision. As the centre referee, you have assistant referees on the side lines to help and you should use them to guide and confirm decisions, not decide for you. As a coach, you have to stick with your plan and training program and hope that the players can perform as they should during the games: if they do not perform as they have in training, then the problem is part them, part coach, and part the opposition. Coach has to figure out which, if any, can be fixed. Been there, done that.

But, judging from the conversations we’ve had this afternoon, I’m very glad that she feels that to do a job well means that you have to do it well and strive to do it better.


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Children, Human relationships, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Can you feel it?

  1. Sandra Loftin says:

    Always enjoy reading the blogs. Stilll can’t write, but someday, perhaps. Sandra

    • Dennis Jones says:

      Sandra, you just need to put the fingers to the keyboard and write as you spoke this morning. Your words are worth sharing.

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