In an Oberlin women's soccer match, the assistant referee (formerly called the linesman) was so involved in the game that he didn't notice the spectator standing a little too close to the line.
The referee ran to keep up with the ball and ran into the spectator. Both he and the spectator took a tumble.
Besides being in the way of the ball, referees are usually given attention only when they make a call that half the spectators disagree with.
Usually it's negative; not many fans cheer for the referee.
"What are we paying you for?" the Notre Dame College of Ohio coach yelled at the referee during a game at Oberlin.
"Everywhere you go, everyone is mean to the refs," women's soccer player sophomore Lisa Novins said.
"I pick my time to yell at them," women's soccer coach Blake New said. "If I feel that they missed the call because of negligence or they were in the wrong position or if I think that they had the wrong interpretation of the rules, then I will yell at them. If I think that they can do better."
"If the ref knows that you're in the back of his mind then he's going to give you a couple of calls," New said. "Unless you make them angry."
Refs try to ignore coaches and players. It is only at places like Oberlin, where the fans can be heard, that they have to deal with fans. In stadiums the fans are just too far away to be heard.
"If the criticism is distracting you, then you better deal with it," referee Joe Wojdyla said. "Because then your mind's not on the game."
"It takes time to learn how to deal with it," Wojdyla said. "You got to learn how to handle it. Learn to read when to be calm, when to be demonstrative."
"If someone is getting out of control and affecting play, then get them out."
Sometimes the referee deserves the heckling. In a Yeowomen game, the assistant referee paused play to take a cellular phone call. The referee sells pacemakers, and their was some question about the product about to be put in a patient. Fans and players just laughed at the referee because they had never seen anything like it.
"He's out of line," Goodwin said. "If your livelihood is so important, you shouldn't be refereeing at that time.
While adult referees are not often bothered by criticism, heckling can be damaging to youth referees.
"Heckling causes us to lose youth officials," Wojdyla said. "It stops the youths from getting involved and becoming good referees."
Twelve years ago Wojdyla's son, then a 12 year old was verbally assaulted by a coach while refereeing a youth match.
"That heckling and that conduct keeps good youths out of officiating," Wojdyla said. "It's not worth the money, the $10 or $12 they get per game." Adult referees make almost $70 per game.
"I seldom hear," Goodwin said. "Your responsibility is to the field. Making sure that 22 players leave the soccer game alive. Usually the outbursts are emotional. [Referees] try to let it go in one ear and out the other."
"I enjoy watching soccer," Goodwin said. "[Referring] is the best seat in the house."
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 8; November 8, 1996
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