Breaking news, referees don’t have to be zebras anymore according to the governing body of Pennsylvania High School Sports. A much bigger story would be getting the existing soccer chapters to agree to ditch the stripes of every other American sports for the contemporary look used by referees globally. The push to improve sportsmanship is still on and the instructions for using Supplemental DQ’s from the State Governing Body for unsporting issues continues. Players and coaches be warned this isn’t the IFAB, FIFA, PA West or NCAA when it comes to managing taunting, dissent and outward actions, the State Governing Body is doing their part to correct bad behaviour before these student athletes become adults. Why the push? This version of sport is an extension of the classroom. Student-Athletes are to uphold the schools Code of Conduct, a soccer code of conduct and a reminder that they are representing their school and community at large when they step on the pitch. Talk about throwing a lot of things on the referee plate.
A diagonal system of control and true AR vs Referee tracts like FIFA would mean that not every referee would need to master all aspects of this educational version of the game. This would allow school athletic departments to train AR’s from their athlete pool. This would allow younger AR’s to start learning about the skills needed as a referee, perfect positioning for offside calls and gain an understanding for what referee’s process instantaneously throughout the course of the game. This could impact the understanding players develop for sportsmanship. This however would require the state governing body and Athletic Directors to take the initiative to offer officiating courses in school as a physical education class and the approach to look outside of the proverbial box to solve this officiating issue. AD’s would also need to take the responsibility to schedule these student AR’s separately from their referees that assignors would continue to schedule. By the way- Wisconsin makes it work. There is something to be said to have an AR in the right position all of the time instead of relying on the aid of football lines.
If you want to know why we can’t get USSF Referees to come over to the high school side the State Governing Institutions little bulletin to officials and for information to coaches may cover several points that drive US Soccer referees a little bonkers.