Why Yell? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "I'm blind, I'm deaf, I want to be a ref!" the little kids chant over and over.Sayings like this are often said to a referee during the course of a soccer game,and they cause stress.

Studies have shown that referees get nervous andmake wrong calls more often when they are under stress. It has also been shownthat fans create 90% of stressful situations. Yet most people somehow thinkreferees are oblivious to the game they are refereeing.

Last fall Irefereed an under-12 soccer game. There were 15 minutes left in the tied game,and the fans were uptight. I was just praying for a clean game so there would beno tough calls. Throughout, whenever I made a call for one side, the othermuttered under their breath. These mutters eventually turned into yells. I couldnot even begin to imagine what would happen if I messed up a really importantcall. I knew that the fans should not influence my calls, but every time a personcommented negatively on my calls, I questioned myself. I wanted to curl up in mybed and pull up the covers to stop the incessant screaming inside myhead.

There were 10 seconds left. Just then, the forward stole the balland went on a breakaway. He was bolting down the field. Oh, no, I thought. Ifollowed behind, hoping to have a good view of the play. Five seconds left. Theforward and I crossed the 18-yard line. Three seconds left. As the forwardapproached the shot, a mass of defenders blocked my view. The player shot theball to the corner and the goalie dove for it as time ran out. Both teamsinstantaneously parted and one team came out cheering, the other saying theirgoalie had saved it. By that time, the goalie had moved, leaving me to make aneducated call based on what the linesman saw. I declared the ball was in factsaved, and the game ended in a tie.

As soon as my call was heard, parentsstood up and started screaming at me. If I had declared a goal, other parentswould have been enraged. I understand I may have not made the absolutely correctcall, but I did my best based on what both the linesman and I saw.

If theplayers, coaches and fans have not realized it yet, referees are human. The goodcalls are seldom recognized by a comment like "Good call, ref." Peopleseem to think referees are robots. Sometimes referees are wrong in which casefans would be justified in talking to the referee respectfully. More often thannot, people talk to the referees as though they were dogs.

The best pointof view, in my belief, is that of the less competitive people. They wonder whypeople take it so seriously. "It's just a game, yet the coaches, players andfans forget that," they say. Fans are there to watch a good game, and cheerfor a team. The coaches are mostly there to guide the team and prevent chaos. Andthe players are there, well, to play. Where people think they get the right toyell at referees I will never know.

Soccer, along with all other sports,is meant to be enjoyable. The purpose of a sport is not always to win and causestress, but to play a fun game. If the players, coaches, fans and even thereferees were reminded of this every once and a while, the yelling at games wouldbe dramatically reduced, and everybody would enjoy sports more.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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