In a large way, I keep going to parks, stadiums and fields and shooting sports for countless hours because of the unique advantage of being on the field close to the action and close to the teams. I've been privileged to both seeing and hearing things that most fans do not. What I do see and hear however, can be either Good, Bad, or Ugly. I hope that you will read this to the end.
There seems to be a nationwide trend of both the players AND fans (especially the parents unfortunately) to be extra chippy, that is, shouting or barking things, often insults, at the other teams or the officials. At times, I will move far away from an exceptionally obnoxious team and have on occasion refused to take photos of them.
While, for the most part, the things that I hear from coaches are generally positive, there once again seems to be a trend in some coaches joining the journey from Good to the Bad and the Ugly. I suppose this is not surprising because it seems like everyone, everywhere in this country is angry and feels like they're being picked on and not being treating fairly.
Unfortunately, I witnessed and captured the metamorphosis of a coach from the Good to the Bad, and then all the way to Ugly. This blog is NOT intended to call this coach out, nor embarrass him in any way, but as a professional photographer my responsibility is to tell the story of the game and well, this was certainly a part of the game. Hopefully, this short discussion will be a lesson or reminder to us all. Most importanly, please remember "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..."
The setting was a high school soccer playoff match. The home team was largely favored. The stands and the sideline was brimming with home teams fans that were very loud with a lot of spirited chants and cheers. Certainly an overwhelming environment for any visiting team. It is important to note that the referees were from out of the teams' conferences and had not officiated any of their games during the year.
The home team scored first to a deafening roar from the home crowd and an extended team celebration (not unlike what you see during the World Cup matches). The visitors then scored to even the match 1-1. During this time both coaches were definitely in the Good camp. But then things started to change.
There then seemed to be more players flying through the air, more hard tackles, and more players rolling on the ground in both real and imaginary pain. Although to your humble narrator, the refs were calling a good match since the opening whistle, more and more free kicks were being called. So the level of play was getting more aggressive.
Sports FACT: whenever an official makes a call in a game, in any sport, half the people think it's a good call and half think that it's an awful call.
The home team scored on a penalty kick and took the lead 2-1 near the end of the first half. Understandably, the visitors were not happy with the call.
Then began the shouts of - "call it the same both ways, ref." The home team kept the ball near the visitor's goal with shot after shot. The visitor's coach was getting louder and his comments more frequent. The coach had taken a trip to Bad territory. The coach's loud shouting was now becoming an issue to the referees. Two referees discretely conferred during a time stoppage.
Things seemed to escalate quickly as time was becoming an issue and the home team was firing more and more shots on goal meaning that there was less of a chance for the visitors to score. Then it happened: the center referee gave the coach a yellow card that catapulted the coach to Ugly. It was not pretty. The coach then received a red card which meant he was ejected from the game and had to leave the stadium. After giving the referee his final thoughts he slowly left the pitch.
During the game I never heard much from the visiting players, certainly not as much as I normally hear. The coach being ejected did not inspire his team as the home team quickly scored two more goals and took the win.
Again, my intent here is not to highlight the coach as I truly don't know him or his character but rather how quickly we all perhaps can go from being the Good to the Bad to being Ugly. I'm sure he's a good coach but was only frustrated and felt bad for his team. Secondly, I get to chat with and observe a lot of officials and folks certainly while they're human and make mistakes on occasion they WANT to make the right call and officiate the game in a fair an unbiased way. Again, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..." or better yet, try your hand at being an official.
Until next time, be safe, be good and put down those stones and stop saying the officials suck.