Fighting on the Soccer Field
This weekend kicked off the tournament season and one of my teams was at a Memorial Day Tournament. For us, it was a weekend of solid performances but not enough to get us through to the knockout round, our opponent on Sunday morning had the same fate and we were battling for the rights to 2nd bottom of our respective bracket. My team, was clearly the better team and were on top the entire game but with 5 minutes left, were only up 2-1. At this point, the game was wide open and both teams were countering to get the final goal to either equalize or spread the margin. During a heated portion of play, my player fouls the opposition (who hails Riverside-not naming specific club here) and afterwards there is your normal teenage scuffle. A push here, a push there, and then the kid from Riverside throws a punch. My good little boy from 4S Ranch looks on in shock, he can’t believe that someone has actually struck him, then fight or flight kicks in and he defends himself. Rightfully so.
The Scuffle carried on for about 15 seconds and showed signs up breaking up as the referee and players were starting to intervene. What happened next is every coach’s and parent’s worst nightmare.
A parent from the opposition, entered the field of play (presumably) to break up the fight. Upon seeing this, a parent from my team entered the field of play as well to remove his son from the scuffle. What transpired after is my parent was physically attacked by one, then two opposing parents. To my knowledge there were no punches thrown and by this point I’m on the field shouting for my team to get to their bench. To the opposition coaches credit, he was doing the same thing-both coaches wanting to get their players to safety and away from the mayhem.
The next minute was a great deal of finger pointing, name calling, threatening to call the police, and a referee calling the game.
In the end, saner heads prevailed as parents from both teams removed the parties and the altercation was broken up. But it was clearly an adrenaline rush for everyone involved.
Parents on the Soccer Field
As we head into the tournament season, it will be hot, there will be bad referees, there will be nasty opponents and nasty parents. There will also be good referees and great opponents and parents whom you will actually form relationships with because you enjoy watching your kids compete against each other. One thing to remember is it is never ok for a parent to enter the soccer field. Especially in a situation like a fight. Emotions are already heated, let the referee, coaches and players sort out the problem.
What should have happened is that both players received a red card and been dismissed from the field of play. What happened is the game was terminated due to parental involvement.
72 hours after the altercation I can sit back and clearly dissect what transpired and articulate the entire process. As a parent, you see your child in a fight and the immediate reaction is to break it up. As another parent, you see a parent on the soccer field as a fight is going on and your reaction is to defend your child. If you ever find yourself in this situation, you have to sit back and let the boys be boys. This situation ended peacefully with both teams parting ways, shaking hands and leaving the parking lot without incident.
However, there have been scenarios where altercations break out between parents and charges are pressed. Furthermore, when a referee has to terminate a game he or she has to file it with Cal South and then the parents involved have to be brought before the PAD (Protest, Appeal, and Disciplinary Committee) with a likelihood of having to miss at least 3 games.
Youth Soccer is a competitive sport but there is no place for fighting on or off the soccer field. This is a gentleman’s game. That said, you have to be prepared to defend yourself and I let my player know after the game that I understood where he was coming from and why he had to defend himself and let him know I was proud of him. The final conclusion is that by having parents enter the field it elevates the tension. Even though someone is trying to do good and break up an incident, as a parent you don’t know what is going through another person’s head and you certainly aren’t going to trust a stranger’s judgement in a high risk situation involving your child. The better solution is for everyone to stay off the field, let the referee and the players teammates manage the situation.