With another season of spring soccer in the books, it’s good to recognize everyone who helped make it possible: the players, the coaches, the parents and the league organizers. But we usually tend to forget one very important and often underappreciated group when we tick off the list: the referees.
Go to pretty much any soccer game and you’ll find somebody complaining about the referee, whether it’s a missed call, a bad call or general name-calling. Referees absolutely are essential to soccer, enforcing the rules and ideally helping to keep players safe. And yet they’re consistently denigrated, insulted and harassed.
This is nothing new, and it happens in any sport that uses officials: hockey, basketball, baseball, etc. Referees instantly are vilified at just about every game they work, and it doesn’t matter if said ref is a child, a senior citizen or your next-door neighbor. I’m not pointing the finger at anyone in particular; I’ve done it, too.