No Tolerance Policy for Violence on the Soccer Field

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    By: ActivityTree

    A tragic story of violence on the soccer field was recently reported out of Utah. A referee, Ricardo Portillo, was allegedly punched in the head by a frustrated 17-year-old goalie after he issued the player a yellow card. Portillo slipped into a coma later that evening and died 7 days later. Situations escalating to this level of violence are extremely rare, but the fact is that reports of both verbal and physical abuse towards soccer officials are commonly reported to governing bodies of soccer at local, state and regional levels.

    Whether or not a referee is right or wrong is irrelevant. The issue here is that everyone on and around the field must learn to discern between disagreement and disrespect.  I don’t care if you’re the teams’ #1 fan, an award-winning coach or a star player. If you’re incapable of maintaining a proper level of self control in the face of adversity, I think you should lose your privilege to be a part of the game immediately and indefinitely. Not fined and not verbally reprimanded. Not ignored. There should be severe consequences for disrespectful, abusive behavior or it’s going to continue to happen! If children see this type of behavior tolerated they will grow to believe it to be acceptable behavior both on and off the field.

    Truth be told, I’ve found myself sitting on the sidelines of my child’s game and have completely disagreed with a referee’s call or have been annoyed to the nth degree with a fellow spectator’s behavior (sometimes simultaneously). Find me someone who hasn’t and let me know if there’s room for my kid in their league! Fortunately, I’ve been taught how to properly handle those types of situations. And, above all, I always try to remember that IT’S JUST A GAME!

    The bottom line, sports are supposed to be fun for children and provide the perfect platform to teach them several life lessons. I think that being faced with frustrations like a “bad call” provide character building experiences that will help them far beyond the soccer field. Kids must learn that things aren’t always going to be fair. They’re going to lose. There are going to be people they don’t agree with or don’t like. Dignity and respect is best taught by example. Parents, coaches, officials, governing bodies of soccer, let’s try to do a better job at showing kids how to be more than just good athletes, but how to be good people!

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