Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Soccer Referee Tragedy

By now, you've heard the tragic story of Ricardo Portillo, a Utah soccer referee who died as a result of being punched by a teenage player during a game. This truly is a sad story, and I fully expect (and hope) the teenager to get a significant amount of jail time. You probably also know that I am a soccer referee. Several people have asked me if I've ever been attacked, and fortunately, the answer is no. Sure, I get yelled at during games (c'mon ref, what are you watching, etc.) and I've had several parents, coaches or adult players say that they're going to report me to the league, but in my 15+ years as a soccer ref, I do not recall anyone ever threatening me. With that written, there are times when I leave the field as quickly as possible after a game ends. I may have taken a longer route home with several extra turns to ensure I wasn't being followed once or twice too. (I felt like Rockwell.)

A few years ago, a colleague of mine told me a story about a game he worked. After the ref issued a red card, the player stated that he was going to his car and alluded to the fact that there was a gun in the car. The ref called the game and the police. The player's teammates were extremely upset about the teammate. Apparently, he did this before. Oh, he was the coach's son too.

Anyway, I enjoy working as a soccer ref. I try to facilitate a positive environment where people are playing to have fun. They pay me to get exercise! While I don't work as a ref nearly as often as I used to, I'm going to continue to ref. Sadly, I might need to watch my back a little.

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