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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Salt Lake City, UT

The article cits "poor sportsmanship of fans, coaches and players" as significant contributing factors to this mess. Where is the demeanor and sportsmanship that should accompany citizens who in this local culture surely are taught to live and behave to a higer standard?

Brigham City, UT

UteUteUte, by this age, sideline refs can and do call other infractions besides offside (no s) and out of play. Happens all the time in a well ref'd game.

Frank Staheli
Santaquin, ut

High school football has how many officials? Five or six? Why doesn't soccer have more than one (not counting the sideline officials)?

Riverton Cougar
Riverton, UT

A couple people have pointed out yellow cards which lead to red cards might be counted, which would make the soccer ejection numbers misleadingly high. That might be a good argument, but if that were truly the case, don't you think that the number of coaches ejected would be the same as with other sports?

Joey D

JmThms- You're correct, I forgot about our own fatality right here in the valley. Soccer brings out the worst in people.

Salt Lake City, UT

As one of the certified UHSAA soccer referees, let me make a few points. In my experience, both in club and high school soccer, the biggest problems are parents. When parents get loud and obnoxious, the coaches and kids follow. Parents usually set the tone for the sportsmanship level of the game.

Several commentators (UteUteUte and others) have remarked on the need for more referees on the field; as someone with personal experience in the game as a referee, player and coach, I can assure you that the three referees are sufficient when each of them is doing their job correctly. The 'sideline referees' have the authority to call more than offside and out of bounds, and when all three work as a team they can easily cover the field. Adding more whistles to the mix would, in my experience make things worse.

@BusStopRatBag, there is no requirement of referees to be graded US Soccer referees, but most of the high school referees (along the Wasatch Front) are 7s, 6s, 5s or emeritus 5s or 6s and any many are certified college (NISOA) referees as well. Overall, we probably have more experience than the referee pool for most other sports.

soccer coach
Taylorsville, UT

UHSAA please release the reason each player was ejected, handball in the box, foul language, or two yellow cards. I agree with Bryce DeMann, until we know the why and are truly able to compare with the other sports the comparable ejections than soccer is not getting equal treatment. I also agree with Lee Mitchell, in the article, about finding out which schools are having the most problems and than punishing those schools. I coach high school soccer but have also run the chains at football games. The language of football players, coaches, and even referees is horrible and I was stunned when I heard the words they were all saying to each other. Technology is everywhere maybe the UHSAA could use video footage to encourage better officiating. Our region tried the 7 p.m. game time start so that we could get better officials but it was the same old guys that we always have. Finally, please don't throw Granger under the bus for being a horrible school as far as sportsmanship. I have worked way to hard to keep a clean program.

red rocks
Saint George, UT

It would be interesting to see if there is a correlation of yellow and red cards given by certain referees. In southern Utah there are 2 referees in particular that give out more yellow and red cards than every othe referee combined. It is very frustrating as a fan to watch a game when either one of these men referee. These referees always becomes the center of attention. The one in particular also referees football and basketball. These games also get out of control quickly. The games always get out of hand and then the referees don't know what to do but hand out cards.


1. High school coaches quit complaining about everything. You ask for more, better officials and drive out any young ones after one season because of your continuous whining. The next year it starts all over. Give them an opportunity to improve.
2. Recruit high school players NOW to officiate in youth leagues, UYSA, etc. When they graduate they can help add to the pool. Maybe they won't because all they remember is how their high school coach treated officials.
3. Administrators. Do your job. The coach should take care of his team, not the fans. Walk among the parents/fans of both home and away teams. Have a presence. Don't just stand around and wonder why things can get out of hand.
4. Line the fields according to the rule book. Don't let parents sit right next to the field. Administrators?
5. Parents. Don't yell, cheer. Go and certify to be a high school official. You are admittedly a better official than anyone out there. You let them know all of the time anyway.
6. Enjoy the beauty of soccer. Don't ruin it by boorish behavior.
7. Be positive. Everyone will enjoy the experience more.

Nate C
Provo, UT

A couple points from a 30-year-old soccer ref that has done several years of officiating both high school and club:
A lot of refs that start reffing high school soccer don't stick around for more than a couple of seasons because there is a privileged group of refs that get all of the 'centers', while the rest of us have to do the assistant ref jobs (the center gets paid $53 while the AR gets $36). And yes, many of that privileged class can't keep up with play at all.
There really ought to be a sophisticated statistical analysis of the ejections, i.e. do some schools get more than others, are certain regions worse than others, do some refs hand them out more, etc. My guess is, 1A-3A is just fine, and only a couple of schools in 4A-5A are worth suspending due to excessive ejections, while there are a few red cards spread out everywhere else.
Highland has always been awful sportsmanship-wise. I'm not sure if they have the same coach as a number of years ago, but his infantile tantrums encouraged his players and fans to show terrible sportsmanship.

Martin Blank
Salt Lake City, UT

As Coach Wooden used to say, "Playing sports doesn't build character; it reveals it." While character can be taught (and learned), when there are problems like this it's usually a failure on the part of those who should be modeling correct behavior. So coaches, administrators, parents? This is on you. Figure it out, and do better.

Provo, UT

The organization should look into what Utah Youth Rugby does with referees. For each of their games, each team will provide a linesman and the center will be provided by the league. This not only helps staff and train officials, but it also shows players how stupid their team/parents/coaches are towards officials because it extends to them. Make each player on a team do it and I'm sure they will change their attitude about it. Rugby is much more physical than soccer, yet it has drastically less discipline problems.

Payson, UT

There was a comment recently that said that blaming the officials was a cop out. Wrong! Don't get me wrong, some officials are excellent, that being said MOST are terrible and they don't know how to keep a game under control. Want to know why? It is because of the training program that they DON'T go through. Officials need more difficult training regimes. I coached for years and referees are a HUGE part of the problem that no one wants to make responsible. I hear all of the school admins calling it student and coaches problems without hearing anything about the official problem (see what I did there).

This is not to say that coaches, players, and parents alike are not part of the problem. Those individuals need to be under control as well. I have seen many coaches yell and scream because they don't understand the rules of the game properly and for that reason they teach their teams VERY wrong. To place blame on just one side is asinine and ridiculous.

Jack of trades

What I'm about to say will not be politically correct but from my observations there is much truth to what I'm going to say.

1. Soccer is managed poorly. School officials do not supervise soccer matches very well. It's outdoors, big field, not a lot of fans. Therefore, there are not a lot of security measures taken by schools. In contrast basketball games have armed officers at many contests.

2. The culture of soccer is different than any other sport. More Hispanics, and foreign speaking kids play soccer, leading to a language barrier and an element of perceived racism. Many confrontations arise from this culture clash. Both on the field and off. This culture clash is not prevalent in other sports.

3. Soccer is still a second class sport in Utah. Not enough people care enough to supply the proper amount of time and resources to make soccer in Utah function better. Schools are stretched as is and it's not basketball or football. Coaches and officials are left to themselves to make it work. And with the problems stated in my first two points it's just not enough.

Salt Lake City, UT

There are a number of issues that create problems in youth soccer. One is certainly the quality of refereeing, and the fact that the one calling the fouls can be a distance away from the call. Another is different cultures involved, with differences related to what is acceptable behavior both in sports and in society. I have seen some teams play in ways that are not just attempting to see what they can get away with within the rules, but rather clearly flouting the rules with their coaches condoning it. If a ref is not experienced or not in control and doesn't take appropriate steps to penalize such teams, you can guess what that does to the coach and the fans on the opposing team. Another issue still brought up one of the clubs that does indeed try to see what they can get away with, within the rules, but can be dangerous play. If one team, for instance, is willing to kick the ball high up without regard to the opponent's head until they get called for it, that team will of course continue to do it. It is an undeniable edge for that club.


One thing I have noticed is that in several high schools in the state, Soccer is not allowed to be played on the football field. Therefore soccer is played on a field, usually in close proximity to the fans, and etc. Every high school has a football stadium, usually with bleachers for both sets of fans. Why not require that soccer be played on a field where there are separated bleachers for fans of opposing teams? They should be a way off from the field, thus letting officials and coaches do their jobs without having unruly parents and fans right on their backs.This simple solution seems to work very well at football games. As long as the UHSAA lets soccer be played on city parks, like any other unorganized competition, we will continue to get the same results. I say move soccer onto the football fields! Use the assets we already have. Then keep the fans in the bleachers, and some at home! At a properly set up stadium this becomes easier for coaches, officials, school administrators, police officers, and etc.

Kennewick, WA

If you force teenage boys to play a sport designed for women and small children, they are going to behave like that. It shouldn't be a surprise.

Fan 100
St. George, UT

As a high school soccer coach this article is embarrassing to me. Boys soccer has already been on probation recently and things have not changed. I fear we as coaches, players, and parents are going to tie the hands of the UHSAA and force them to remove the sport for a time.
Ownership of this problem falls on the coaches, parents, and players. Officials are going to make bad calls all over the place. It is how we respond the call that is causing the problems. I am guilty as much as anyone in arguing calls that I think were unfair. In my experience in coaching high school soccer, both boys and girls, the majority of cards have been issued for unsportsmanlike behavior. Mostly arguing with officials, taunting, and physical altercations. Not a lot are issued for denying goal scoring opportunities.
It starts with the coaches and parents owning their behavior and knowing when to stop. Officials know they will probably make bad decisions. However, the adults around the game need to set a better example of how to react to things that don't go their way all the time. That is life, to put it simply.

Simpe Spectator
St.George, UT

There are a few problems with this...
As many people have stated, soccer is so hit and miss with fouls. I recently had to explain to a friend of mine how soccer works and his question to me was "How come one game its like football out there, and the other its like ice skating" referring to the fact that in some games refs let you do more than other refs. Also, I wanted to see how many refs have been banned for a temporary or permanent time from reffing soccer. It seems like it is always quite a bit higher than other sports. Also, having gone to many different sporting events, soccer is the only sport I have seen when the refs will regularly argue with fans. Refs should NEVER argue with fans....no questions asked. I think the other problem is too that refs don't have the guts to call a foul in the box when its a close game. They need to get the guts and make the call when and where it happens. Unless you make those changes, we will keep having problems.

Cedar City, UT

I agree with derecha's statement concerning the differences between the sports. You cannot judge soccer by just the numbers of red cards handed out during a given period of time. I know that one player this season got a red card for saying the word "freaken", which the referee interpreted as a different more offensive word. But the referee felt he had heard something that required a card. I also witnessed a red card given a Canyon View player for a hand ball in the box. The player unfortunately raised his hands inadvertently deflecting the ball in the box. He deserved the card but was in no way violent. I have also witnessed some sad refereeing during this season. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE AN ASSISTANT REFEREE THAT CAN RUN. Most are 30 yards behind the last defender while trying to determine whether the offensive player was offside or not. You cannot make a good call if you are not in the right position. Also, referee's are the brake pedal on the physical play of any game.

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