Over the NC-Soccer forums, itsaboutthekids posted an epic rant about soccer referees. Not about bad calls and judgement, as he himself is a referee and knows how that goes, but how some referees act like they just don’t care. They are often the only people involved in a soccer match who are getting paid, yet a few don’t take it seriously and it’s a shame. So this rant is full of some excellent, yet barbed, advice for youth soccer referees that don’t take their responsibility seriously.

Here are just a few of his points:

  • When you lie in bed in the morning and glance down toward your toes you should be able to see them. If your view is obstructed by a mountain of stomach with belly-button lint spewing forth like lava from a volcano you’re probably out of shape and should not be doing soccer games. In fact you should immediately consult your doctor. For your own safety stay away from a soccer field. It might be okay for a softball umpire to be the size of a Buick but it’s not okay for soccer. If you can’t make a reasonable effort to get up and down the pitch it’s time to give it up!
  • Just because you’ve passed the exam doesn’t mean you understand the nuances of officiating a soccer game. The ability to read the game (not just the book) and properly apply the advantage clause is essential. Please, watch some high level games and observe how the best referees in the world do it. Maybe join a league and play the game. Too many of you have NEVER PLAYED! That’s a problem.
  • Come to the game prepared. A watch that you can set for the appropriate period of play, a set of cards, writing materials and a WHISTLE! A stop watch hanging around your neck is not what I had in mind. Plumbers don’t go to work without a pipe wrench. Please have all the correct tools when you show up. I have an extra watch and whistle but that doesn’t mean I brought them for you to “borrow”.
  • BLOW your whistle loud enough for everyone to hear it. If you’re too timid to blow the whistle you’re too timid to be a referee. Learn to use your whistle correctly. Long and hard indicates a hard foul and perhaps a card and/or stern lecture. Two quick tweets to indicate a substitution. One quick one for the simple little foul or to restart play. Three times to conclude the match. How you use your whistle is an indicator for the players. They know them and have expectations for the use of the whistle.
  • The middle school players deserve quality refs as much as the collegiate player. If you’ve ever said to yourself “It’s just a girls middle school game, how important is it, really?” then you need to leave now! To those players playing that game IT IS IMPORTANT. And you better treat it as such.

Read the entire rant and the comments/suggestions from readers below it. Mostly good stuff, with some junk thrown in. I know referees take a lot of abuse and most are dedicated people doing something they love. But other times you get people who either want to show off the chip on their shoulder or don’t act like they care. Paid or not – it’s about the kids. Make the effort to earn our respect, even if we don’t agree with your calls. Most do, but some don’t which is what had this poster so up in arms.

UPDATE: Make sure you read the whole thing via the link above. This poster did NOT write this for ALL referees. In his intro he notes that it’s not about bad calls or mistakes – all have good and bad days, including himself (he is a ref). Instead his issue is “with referees that just don’t seem to care. They have no desire to improve their game. Frankly, the job pays pretty well and you should take a professional approach to it every time you step on the pitch.” That’s the context for this rant – not referees as a whole.

Also – soccer terminology varies across the country. Some states call their travel soccer program ‘Premiere’ In this rant, his note about U16 Premiere refers to the absolute top level of play in the state, limited to ten teams total per age/gender level that play statewide, hoping to advance to Region III (all southeast) level play.