“Ref Rants” is our referee, umpire and official-only contributor column for the worst, best, funniest and all-around horror stories that keep this job interesting. Email us at email@example.com to get your story featured on our ref rants blog and in our weekly newsletter.
This week’s Ref Rant is from “Tony” in the Greensboro, NC area.
So I’m reffing in this small North Carolina town in the Piedmont. The name doesn’t matter because, let’s be real, they’re all the same anyway. They all have the same little soda shop and the same barbecue sandwich place juts as you swing into town. You know the type.
But anyway, so I’m reffing this game. I think it must’ve been maybe a U-13/U-14 game, maybe even junior high. It was co-ed, and I don’t even think these kids had hit puberty.
It’s a pretty low-contact game, low-energy. We’re in small-town NC and it’s just a quiet Sunday rec soccer game, I think it was a local YMCA league — not exactly Manchester vs Liverpool if you get my drift.
But don’t tell the wife of the head coach of one of the teams. Maybe she was the assistant coach (same thing?) but this lady was intense. No plays off, man. “This stuff matters”-type chic ya know? Mean, yelling, screaming the whole game. She sounds pissed off at everything.
But anyway, so their team (the team with the angry wife-coach) is getting smacked down. It might be 4 or 5 nothing. It’s so bad the wife-assistant is starting to calm down since the game has been out of hand.
With maybe 10 minutes to go, one of the female players of the losing team decides she’s had enough and open-arm shoves one of the other players in the back. Nothing too crazy, but a pretty blatant non-soccer play.
Hey, I’m just trying to get this blowout over like everyone else and get home for Sunday Night Football. I’m on the far side of the field away from the wife-coach (not an accident) and we’re winding this thing down. If there had only been a minute left I might’ve juts ignored the push.
But I couldn’t. It was a blatant shove, really out of control, and for all I know my boss is watching me. It’s right in front of the fans and I have to call it.
But look, I’m not trying to embarrass this girl or this team anymore (they’re getting creamed). So I don’t even want to call anything (but I have to, everyone saw the shove) so I figure I’ll just tell the coach to sub this girl out and we’ll move on with our lives. I tell the girl shoving is wrong, and motion over to the coach for a sub.
But oooohhhh no. This doesn’t fly with Wife Coach. See, she’s angry they’re getting creamed (or whatever else pissed her off that day), and demands (loudly) to know what call I had made.
This woman starts screaming that I can’t just sub out her player, that I have to make a real call. That the rules can’t just be trampled!
This isn’t ‘Nam! There are rules!
Of course, she’s technically right, I did need to make a real call to follow this by the book. But I was just trying to diffuse the situation and give this team and the girl a break.
But oohhhh no. Wife Coach isn’t having it. She literally demands that I do something, ya know “make a call.”
And what else is there to do? The only call I can make is a card, and embarrass the hell out of this young woman.
So I do it. I whip out my red card for the first time in my life and I eject this 12 year old girl in front of her friends and family.
Of course, I make it obvious I’m only doing it because of this crazy assistant coach. But that doesn’t make it any better.
What a psycho, she chose to humiliate her own player to take a shot at the referee. I’m not sure if that’s the Streisand Effect but it’s pretty close.
Anyway, what a nutcase. Thanks for letting me tell my crazy story. This profession never ceases to amaze me. You need a psychology degree to deal with this stuff.