Comments about ‘Game assault highlights problems in high school boys soccer’

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Published: Sunday, March 30 2014 7:05 p.m. MDT

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sherlock holmes
Eastern, UT

No one is talking about this, so I will. Soccer has gotten so physical at the high school level - both boys and girls. And the contact is encouraged, even coached, by the coaches. Sometimes, soccer does look more like a rugby game.

Maybe it is time for more protective gear, and a hockey-type helmet. Then, bring on the contact.

The soccer culture has deluded itself for decades that one official can watch the game and catch all the contact and fouls going on. A second or third official - on the field, not the sideline - would be a step forward to catching the physical play earlier and giving warnings.

Brigham City, UT

EnglishAlan: Perfect example of someone laying down the rules and, as shown from your history, it makes a difference. The key is getting the coach to stick to the rules no matter what...or who.

Lew: The oft tendered complaint about the number of points scored, or the fact that a season game can end in a tie, only serves to demonstrate the lack of understanding too many people have in the beauty and skill required to play the game of fútbol. Even American football games can often end with a score of 6 to 0 which is just the same as 1 to 0. Inflating the value of a score, or completely changing the way the game is played just so there's a higher number on the scoreboard, would do nothing more than cheapen the sport so that it carries the same reduced level of quality as the likes of basketball or American football. Please don't insist we go there...

Santa Monica, CA

The coach who was quoted is a good eye into the problem. Mr. Wigam first blames the problem on the referee seeing the two coaches on the sidelines as the enemy, then goes on to accuse them of hearing problems, being too out of shape to keep up with younger players, often forty yards out of position and unwilling to get rid of some and bring in better ones. Gosh, I wonder why the refs might view coaches as adversarial? And why would kids get the idea that they're above reproach?

South Jordan, UT

It's time to simply cancel the sport. If the players, coaches or parents can't control themselves, take it out of the public school system and let the thugs go at each other in private leagues. Our tax money has better use!

Joey D

Wasn't it Brazil last year where they beheaded a referee last year? The peaceful game of soccer....

Layton, UT

English Alan: "In the five years, we had one player cautioned, (yellow-carded) and no ejections."

What ages did you manage? I can't fathom one yellow in five years unless you're managing very young children or your players keep their hands in their pockets, refuse to tackle, fight for headers, etc.

I think most H.S. refs around here have their 8. It looks to me all the 7s are at the club matches just as the story suggests. Responsibility ultimately lies with the managers and the players, without a doubt, but things get out of hand fast when an inexperienced center ref doesn't have control of the match. The kids know it immediately and try things they'd never even consider with an experienced ref. And some of the adults in charge are likely to encourage the same. I'd love to know the stats regarding grade and experience differences between H.S. refs and club refs.

St Louis, MO

"It is only the beginning of the end."

Oh, the drama. An uptick in unruly behavior in Utah soccer is a sign of the impending end of days? High comedy!

I'm a native Utah now living in St. Louis. I have four kids ages 17-11, all of whom have played multiple sports since grade school. I figure we've been through, cumulatively, 35-40 seasons of various sports, depending on how you define a "season" in club sports.

In all this time, I've seen zero fights, a couple of coach ejections, and a couple of fan ejections. That's it. I've encountered a handful of harmlessly snotty parents, irritating coaches, and players who could use a good punch, but it's all amounted to not a whole lot.

So I'm wondering, are the sentiments being expressed here, and the events that led to this article, an outlier? Are we exaggerating a bit? Or is Utah experiencing problems worse than other parts of the country? Or is eastern Missouri a bastion of civility? I'm honestly curious.

Centerville, UT

In defense of Coach Wigham, his Viewmont team has a grand total of 0 ejections (coach or player) in 8 games so far this 2014 season. Idenfity the problem programs and fix or suspend those programs.
As a soccer fan (both HS and club), I agree that a 2 yellow card-ejection and a conduct/behavior ejection should be categorized, reported, and treated differently. I'd also be in favor of escalating penalties for conduct/behavior ejections from 1 game to 2 games to 3 games, etc for additional offenses. Fighting could be an enhanced penalty (multiple game suspension). There could also be a yellow card accumulation rule like professional leagues do to discourage persistent rough play.
With a maximum of 16 regular season games, I would think those on the edge would clean things up and chronic problems would be punished by their non-participation.

Henderson, NV

"Just get rid of soccer altogether. Fights leading to deaths, concussions, etc. It is just out of hand."

Didn't we all just know that the above ridiculous 'suggestion' would be made? Huh? Didn't we all just know that? It's soccer's fault. Of course. Something about that little round ball.

Henderson, NV

Hey 'Go Utes!' ('Go Utes!' is bad enough)

"It seems that Soccer has a lot more extreme behavioral problems that does any other sport. The beating brings back to my memory that awful story about the Utahan last year who killed the referee because he lost his temper.

I have never liked soccer, this is just one more reason to stay away from it."

It's obvious you don't like soccer. I've played, reffed and coached soccer for 30 years and have seen no more 'extreme behavioral problems' than in other American sports - in America. I'm not talking about overseas where basketball games can turn into riots also, proving that it is the culture and not the sport. Soccer will continue to grow in this country, like it or not. My suggestion to those like you is to at least learn to live with it. It will make things easier for you.

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

Who's in charge?

Officials abdicating responsibility to control the game...not the outcome...the game?

School administrators abdicating responsibility to level a meaningful consequence?

Coaches abdicating responsibility to manage their players?

Players abdicating responsibility to control their own behavior?

Parents abdicating responsibility to manage themselves as well as their children?

In the circular firing squad so popular in todays culture, each of these groups spends time pointing fingers...abdicating responsibility.

As one DN reader commented...punish the perpetrators with meaningful behavior changing consequences.

Once the word is out that all 5 groups indicated above are on the same page with this problem... behavior will change.

Henderson, NV

"Joey D

Wasn't it Brazil last year where they beheaded a referee last year? The peaceful game of soccer...."

Sorry Joey D, but I have to call attention to these ridiculous posts. Nothing personal intended. But can't just the most basic critical thinking bring you to realize that incidents like that are a result of larger cultural issues, and not the sport ITSELF?

Ogden, UT


High school sports competition is really a valuable teaching and learning experience nowadays, right?

Wrong! Way too much money and time is consumed in junior and senior competitive sports. Way to little emphasis is placed by students, teachers, administrators and parents on academics, it seems to me.

Character-building in sports these days? I don't think so.

scrappy do

hmm, do these sports build character, or do they build characters??... I think it is the later

Farmington, UT

Another suggestion I'd add is to clearly separate home and away fans like is done at schools like Kearns (fans are on opposite sides of the field). As a fan the negative experiences I've seen in the stands are when opposing fans sit next to each other. Comments that would largely be ignored are responded to escalating problems because of the close proximity.

St Louis, MO

yarrlydarb: Feel free to cite any credible information you have at your disposal that being involved in sports harms academic performance, either at the school level or the individual level. We'll all hold our breath until you come with something more compelling than the myriad studies that suggest exactly the opposite.

The "character" part of the equation is, as far as I know, completely unproven either way. You may have a chance in the debate if you were to stick to the issue of money spent on sports, but I'm guessing you've got nothing there except assumptions.

As long as we're operating on assumptions and anecdotal evidence to infer larger trends, I'll go ahead and guess that the "down with HS sports!" crowd doesn't have many former athletes on its side.


BusStop - I'm sure he's referring to yellow cards which were the result of unsportsmanlike conduct, not from fouls within the game (which are going to happen no matter what). I applaud that type of philosophy because it is one that athletes need to have in life, because there are times when things don't work out as they should and you simply need to say "Yes sir" and move on. Yes it is possible to run a program with class and dignity and that is what soccer in Utah needs right now.

Herbert Gravy
Salinas, CA

Didn't read ALL of the comments, but it seems that the coaches could be more effective in controlling players' behavior. Nip problems in the bud. Any "untoward" behavior or comments and you are on the bench. Let's show more interest in producing good citizens and less in scoring the most points. You can do it coaches. We are counting on you.

Old Doc
Thatcher, AZ

It's nuts to blame the refs! Why not have the administrators, players and coaches take some responsibility. I've seen it work in other sports. One example on a varsity basketball team, if a player got a technical his parent had to sit with him on the end of the bench and he didn't play anymore that game. If a player is ejected, not just sit one game, but three. It solves the problem real quick

Bountiful, UT

I am not a player or a coach or a ref at the high school level, but I love to watch sports. So please understand that this is not an indictment on the quality of the refs at all. I have always been amazed that soccer only has 1 ref to cover the entire field. One! Yes, there are sideline personnel that help with a few calls like offsides and out of bounds. But why not let them call fouls? A football field is roughly the same size and it has anywhere from 4-8 refs (from Pee Wee to the pros). Basketball has 2 or 3 in a much smaller area. Not even the best ref can expect to make excellent calls when there are 22 players all moving on a large area such as a soccer field. In basketball there are refs in areas that watch "on ball" play and others watching "off the ball". Football has refs that have very distinct roles and penalties to call. Can you really expect one person to see all play around the ball and off the ball?

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