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Kids at a soccer match

There was a group of five or six primary-school aged kids sitting behind me at the Knights vs. Adelaide match I went to watch. They were not quiet ones, quite the contrary: they, like this guy who was sitting behind me at the secondary school premium basketball league final, spent more or less the entire match yelling at the referee.

Now, I wasn’t entirely impressed with some of his calls either. A basketball-obsessive, I admit, my knowledge of soccer is little better than that of the history of Luxembourg. However, I do quietly believe, and please feel free to correct me, that a goal is considered to have been scored when the ball passes the plane bounded by the goalposts, crossbar and end line. From what I saw, it did, though neither the referee nor linesmen picked it up, and therefore, the goal was not counted and the Knights lost two goals to one.

What followed that particular non-goal was, as you’d expect, a wave of hissing and booing from the three-thousand-strong crowd. And, lo and behold, a series of insults from these eight- or nine-year-olds behind me. Their comments ranged from those about blindness to "you suck, ref!" several times over. The same followed after several offside calls against the Knights.

Okay, I guess it wasn’t only the referee they abused. The conditions tonight were very, very wet; rain fell steadily through the match and consequently players found it difficult to control the ball. Passes along the ground were, of course, stopped early in their tracks; dribbles found themselves as successful as Destiny New Zealand with getting into parliament. And whenever a Knight fell to this, lo and behold, these kids were the first to point out, "how the hell did we lose that?".

You see, these are primary-school aged kids, taught already to abandon sportsmanship. The tradition of perhaps paying a bit more attention to the referee’s failures — or in some cases, successes that just happened to go against your team — than the players’ successes starts from this age.

Whatever happened to the game? And, for that matter, is the referee really going to hear their words? And don’t the players already know their mistake? (Though I admit, it took them a while to figure out the ball wasn’t travelling very efficiently along the ground.) So, really, what benefit is there from screaming and yelling like that, except increasing the likelihood of public violence?

There are better things to do than criticise the errors of those on the field. They are already at the top of their level and I highly doubt a nine-year-old could do better. It is a shame that their parents show them this example at such an early age. It’s a game, not a place to abuse those higher than you, not a place to be an annoyance to those directly around you. I wonder if people will ever realise this.

Related Links

Added October 5

  • New Zealand Herald: Soccer: Officials and rain undo the Knights
  • Added October 8

  • New Zealand Herald: Terry Maddaford: Football? More like water polo
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    2 Comments Post a comment
    1. Jeremy #

      Note: it only counts as a goal if the ball passes COMPLETELY over the line of goal, the same for outsides, unlike bball where stepping on the line counts as out of play (i think). In soccer, for a goal or out of play ball, the when the ball sits on the line even a little, it still counts as \’in play\’

      3 October 2005
    2. alice #

      i like your essay.. i think you should try writing for the college herald sometime! you might win 500 bux! worth a shot…

      27 October 2005

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