Posts Tagged "referees"

The One Thing You Have to Know About Soccer

Dear Kid,

Soccer is a ridiculously easy game. (And by “ridiculously easy” I mean more complicated than you might think.)

Because it is easy, I give Pi the same advice before every game: The ball goes in the net.

Sometimes she even takes my advice. Easiest thing ever.

But there are things that make soccer more complicated. And I’m not talking about understanding the plays. (People who know what they’re talking about when it comes to soccer insist that there are plays and set pieces and other preplanned events. The rest of us are pretty sure the ball just gets kicked around a lot.)


Even I can play soccer.

Opponents. Of course, soccer is made slightly more complex by the other team who sees it as their job to keep the ball out of the net. Or at least have it go into the other net.

Teammates. Teammates do not always play perfectly. This can tend to cause inconsistencies on the field. And groaning on the sidelines.

Rules. Then there are the complications because of the rules. (The rules work better when they’re enforced—looking at you, referee who decided that calling fouls was for wimps and he was darn sure not going to be a wimp.)

Traffic. Traffic is another complication, made worse on Tournament weekends when everyone and their brother is going to a soccer field that is just on the wrong side of the field you’re trying to get to.

Do you think medieval tournaments (think jousting and other fun sports) had parking issues?

Kettle corn. Kettle corn really isn’t a complication. At least not until the little boy next to you spills his and sets up a wail suitable for replacing all the emergency sirens in a six mile radius. I’m quite sure knights in shining armor didn’t have to deal with kettle corn spillage. They might have had to deal with loud children.

Port-a-Potties. Complication. And by complication, I mean “ick.” Especially if you’ve been sitting in the sun. And by “sitting in the sun,” I mean drinking a lot of water while sitting in the sun. And the port-a-potties have been sitting in the sun. Double ick.

And yet, with all the complications, soccer is ridiculously easy. The ball goes in the net. The crowd goes wild. The player have fun. And eventually we go home.

Love, Mom

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Undisputed National Champions | Play by Play (Not Really)

Dear Kid,

Sometimes life is easy. Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions.

Last night was one of the difficult times.

Football championship or Celebrity Apprentice? NCIS reruns or football? Football or Cash Cab?

Decisions, decisions.

I choose Football. And just in case you took care of your cold and went to bed at a reasonable hour, here’s what happened.

First the commentators tried to figure out if the Ducks would eat the Buckeyes, or if Urban Meyer would pull off the win. To keep it interesting, no one agreed.

I tried to figure out if I’d stay awake through the whole game. Just to stay in the spirit of things, I didn’t agree with myself.

First, let’s talk about the obvious. The Ducks should have won the sartorial part of the competition. They have coolest font for their numbers in all football. But they were wearing white tops and silver pants which looked white and their remarkable colorlessness was disappointing. The color guard was a close second, but they marched off beat, so no. There is nothing interesting about the referee uniforms. Points to the troops shown on the giant screen at the stadium.

National Anthem: Duck mascot looked dang cute with his hand somewhere in the vicinity of his heart. Anthem well sung; everyone cheered.

Game captains walk out holding hands. So cute. Hugs and handshakes all around. Likely to be the end of gentlemanly interaction for a few hours. The ref uses a coin that has neither heads nor tails, but everyone seems happy. Eventually, the teams lined up for the kickoff.

Marcus Mariota from the Ducks (all that white is just so unfortunate given that their colors are green and yellow) won the Heisman in 2014. He’s the only Heisman winner from Hawaii. This is important because guess where your grandparents are and I’m not?

Looks like two bananas, right?Oregon pushes down to midfield. Is that a banana on the turf? False alarm, it’s a stylized football. (Booker thinks it looks like a banana too.)

According to the commentators the Buckeye defense is “stunned” by the first drive of the Ducks. But then—FUMBLE—First down Ohio State. But wait, must review upstairs. For a loooong time. And it turns out the dude was down before the ball was ripped out. Ducks keep the ball. This is important because it is the only time the Ducks will even consider turning over the ball. Not that it will help them enough (foreshadowing in case you weren’t sure).

The puppy is so amazed, he snores.

And a few snores later, the Ducks score their first touchdown. PAT snap is a little high but no one seems to care and the score is Ducks 7 Buckeyes 0.

Now it’s Ohio turn. Turns out the puppy snores equally for both teams. Bunch of plays, and the Buckeyes punt. As do the Ducks. Puppy thinks it’s snack time. Disappointment and commercials all around.

After getting pinned practically at their goal line and converting on a fourth down, the Buckeyes score. Flag on the PAT. Re-kick and now it’s 7:7. Or possibly 7:7 depending on how you look at these things.

At the commercial break, the puppy goes into the kitchen to see if anything has fallen on the floor. The urge to snack is strong with that one.

Pi and Dad come home. Much distraction, during which The Ohio State University scores again.

Second quarter. Ohio fumbles and Oregon recovers. Oregon, 4th and goal. Scrum! Whistles! Ohio holds the line. Then Ohio oopses after the play and the penalty is half the distance to the goal (measured in microns).

Rinse and repeat. Yep, Ohio fumbles and Oregon recovers.

You know, with all the things the commentators have discussed, I don’t think they’ve commented on the fact that both teams start with O. I’m pretty sure this is highly significant.

Congratulations OSU--Undesputed National Champions! DearKidLoveMom.comMore football. Ohio scores. (Sorry, got in a conversation with Dad, so I didn’t have much idea what happened until the instant replay.) Wait, not a TD. 3rd down and 3 inches to go. So they do. PAT is good.

Oregon responds by taking a long time to get to a field goal. And after a failed trick play, we go to half-time Oregon 10, Buckeyes 21.

Halftime: Much conversation. Even more commercials. Probably a halftime show, but the TV people didn’t bother us with it.

Second half.

The stylized football still looks like bananas. I am rather fixated on this. So is the puppy who would like to share the banana.

Pi: Oregon is supposed to win, right?
Me: They may not have gotten the memo
Puppy: Banana! Banana!
Dad: There are no bananas
Puppy: Please?

Ohio State is on the move. Until Oregon intercepts the ball.

Pi: That’s Jalin Marshall, right?
Dad: Yup.
Pi: Way to represent the GMC.

(Jalin played in the Greater Miami Conference in high school. So did you. Now Pi does. The sarcasm is strong in that one. Don’t feel bad, Jalin. You’ve had one heck of game.)

Oregon scores on the turnover. But the moron runner may have dropped the ball before he crossed the goal line. No, upon further review the call on the field stays.

Oregon: 17; Ohio: 21

Ohio smashes through on a crazy 4th and 1. The crowd goes crazy. Oregon responds by picking up a fumble (for the fourth time if you’re counting these things). The crowd goes crazier.

Pi: You can’t win the National Championship with 4 turnovers.

No one argues. Ohio doesn’t let the logic of this statement stop them.

Ohio prevents a TD. Ducks kick a FG. 20:21.

Finally, a commercial so I can go get a snack.

Puppy: Me too?
Me: You’re already in bed. No snack for you.
Puppy: Sad face

THE OSU says, whatev, and smashes down the field for a TD. And by “smashes” I pretty much mean “smashes” since several OSU runners left Duckie bodies strewn across the field.

The momentum goes this way. The momentum goes that way. I go look for some Dramamine.

Oregon 20: Buckeyes 35 42.

The commentators wish me to remind you that this is a very young Buckeye team. They’re all up past their bedtimes and Nannies will be taking them home after the game. Also, they should be back next year. And the year after that. And possibly until you are old and gray.

They also wish me to remind you (again) that the OSU punter is an Aussie.

Finally, they wish me to remind you how awesome OSU was in this game. You’ve been reminded.

I still can’t understand why no one thinks I should do the live TV commentary of big football games.

And so, the college football season comes to an end. Not with a vote, but with a national championship.

Who Dey!

I mean, Go Bucks!

Love, Mom

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Happy Birthday Professional Football | 5 Things You Don’t Know About Football

Dear Kid,

Happy Birthday Professional Football DearKidLoveMom.comWhere were you August 20, 1920? If you had been in Canton, Ohio, and if you had wandered into the Jordan and Hupmobile Auto Showroom, you might have stumbled into a meeting to organize a professional football league. Eventually, the group of seven formed the American Professional Football Conference (which became the American Professional Football Association which became the NFL). Three weeks after the APFC was formed, salary disputes and rule changes began proving that it was a) professional and b) organized. Mission accomplished.

All of which means that today is the birthday of organized professional football. You can feel free to celebrate at any time during the day.

Professional football began in the 1890s in Pennsylvania. Today it is a game played professionally in cities around the country and on many Division I college campuses. The first teams in the league were the Akron Pros, the Canton Bulldogs, the Cleveland Indians, and the Dayton Triangles. Yes, they were all Ohio teams even though the first professional team was in in Pennsylvania (the Allegheny Athletic Association). Guess how many of those teams remain?

So what have we learned?

  1. Professional football began August 20, 1920, except it really didn’t.
  2. Issues around player salaries, game attendance, and college eligibility have been around longer than football.
  3. Joe Neanderthal was big football fan (it was of course all amateur back then).
  4. It is important that the cost of 3 hot dogs at a professional football game is roughly equivalent to the annual budget for some small cities. This allows the team to pay for roughly one week of the lowest paid athlete.
  5. Watching football is fun.

Love, Mom

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Referees, Umpires, Linesmen, and Other Striped Officials

referees-umpires-sports-officials-college-sportsDear Kid,

Important things I have learned about sports officials (in addition to the problem of them not being invisible):

Officials work hard: A world cup referee will run further than the players, at 12 miles in a 90 minute match. This is not trivial and they have to go through all kinds of fitness assessments to be sure they are up to the task.

Attire is important: To all of you officiators out there—pull up your socks. Look professional. Kids are actually paying attention to you. I have it on great authority that this is Very Important.

Speaking of officiating fashion, I turned to for the most important fashion question: Why do officials wear stripes?

So how did the zebra-like uniform come to be? Legend has it that the striped uniform was developed by Lloyd Olds, a high-school and college referee from Michigan.

As the story goes, he usually wore a solid white shirt. At a college football game in 1920, the visiting team also wore white. When their quarterback mistakenly handed off the football to Olds, he knew he had to come up with a different uniform.

Olds decided that wearing stripes would be the best way to avoid confusion. He had a friend make him a black and white striped shirt, which he wore for the first time during the 1921 state basketball championships. Other referees saw his outfit and started copying it. The rest, as they say, is history!

Referees are neutral: Like Switzerland but with less chocolate.

Officials make mistakes—but not many: Yes, it is true. Referees and umpires do make mistakes. [And it is absolutely true that there are some officials (especially at the lower levels) who need to go back and reread the rule book a time or two. And learn how to Pay Attention. And gain some confidence to make calls.] But at the higher levels, there are not nearly as many as you might think. The majority of the calls professionals make are spot on (as proven by the advent of instant replay on which we can watch endless repetitions of the smallest event just to learn that you’re supposed to listen to the umpire no matter what.) Keep in mind that people in almost every profession make mistakes. Although very few occupations have such a large audience to view your mistakes and offer to tear you limb from limb for being impartial.

Officials get paid serious bucks: Like professional athletes, top officials get paid top dollar, while the majority earn far less (especially if you factor in all the “officials” chiming in from their seats in the stands). was happy to tell me all about this. NFL referees (who are part time employees) earn between approximately $2,100 and $7,500 per game. NBA officials earn approximately $3,300 per game. In baseball (do not get me started), officials earn $500 and $1,800 per game. And the dudes on the ice earn between $1,300 and $3,100 per game. If you’re motivated, you can either multiply their earning by the number of games or go to ehow and look it up. (Link provided for your viewing pleasure.)

Hope you’re having a great, penalty-free day.

Love, Mom

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