Over at TheRef Blog, The Ref highlights a recent sending off he was involved in:

a shot was taken, and the keeper bobbled the ball, but was able to direct to toward the side of the goal. There were several other players nearby, including attackers within a couple of feet, so I high-tailed it from just off the top of the penalty area right inside, because I know there’s going to be a scramble; as I sprinted in, an attacker gets the ball as the keeper is diving for it, backs it up a step, and punches it into the goal. I heard a defender, maybe two, call for the ball out-of-play, so I decided to adapt Terry Vaughn’s advice about penalty kicks: make the call and get the hell out of the way.

Sounds like a good plan to me! But the keeper had other ideas.

On my run back to center, I heard the very loud, "F**k you!" coming from the keeper, and immediately thought that it was directed not toward me, but to one of the attackers – maybe one made a comment to him or something.

So, my thinking that it was directed at another player, I paused briefly to consider my color – I could have gotten away with a yellow, but my gut was telling me red, that the match would deteriorate, even though it has been clean up until this point, if I didn’t. I went with my gut and sent him off, and he immediately apologized. Not only that, this league has become so well behaved that I had three more apologies from his teammates before we restarted! After the game, when I got his name, I had to thank him, because he was one of the best behaved people who ever took plastic from my back pocket.

You gotta love that kind of respect for the officials! Give a player a red card and three other players apologize! That’s impressive. And kudos to The Ref for thanking the player for his post send off behavior. It may seem trivial – but it matters. Anyway, what really got me chuckling was The Ref’s closing paragraph:

After the game, as I handed in my paperwork, the coordinator asked about the card, and said that the player asked to get a lighter sentence (essentially, no one-game suspension), and that he was really sorry for yelling at me. Yelling at me, I asked? Yup, apparently that, "Fuck you" was meant for me. OK, he’s still really nice, but I think the red was totally justified now (I’m typing this with a big grin on my face)!

What should be really interesting is that one of the players on that team maintains a blog of his own; I’m curious to read what he thinks.

I’d be curious too. I do a ton of Internet related work for our league, my day job, and other escapades. Even with all the effort I’ve put into developing web based applications for our league, it never really occurred to me that as blogs have gotten so popular along with sites like MySpace and others – players these days have plenty of online venues to complain about a match, officiating, etc. I’ve held off setting up a forum package for our league because it would be oh so easy for it to degenerate into non stop complaining about this call or that coach.

But on the flip side – it might make for some interesting reading to see what players thought about a close match they’d just played recently or a controversial call. Does your league have some type of online forum? Does it work or is it non stop moderation to keep things on an even keel? I still may set one up at some point if I can keep it from being a bear to moderate and manage.

Have any of you stumbled across interesting commentary on recent matches or calls? Are the kids posting stuff up for their buds? I’m sure any real debate among players happens via IM, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a few decided to go the blog route to boast or complain about recent matches.

Hmmm – might be time to exercise the ol Google-foo Smiley