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Where's the Referee?

By Joe Ulm

Here’s the problem: there aren’t enough referees. And I can tell you with 100% certainty that it’s not for lack of organization or effort. People are working hard, providing opportunities, spreading the word, and encouraging kids to become referees. Oh, and the pay is good, too. Yet, here we are. Again.  Without enough referees.   How can that be?

As it turns out, there is a simple answer to that question – because it’s not worth it.

It’s not worth it to have coaches tell you all the calls you missed; or to have parents berate you at maximum volume in front of 20, 30, or 50 people.  More. It’s not worth having your knowledge questioned publicly – or your abilities, or your general intelligence, and so on. Worse yet, sometimes they’re correct; parents and coaches, with their loud, sideline voices. For all to hear. You made 25 correct calls before that, but yeah, you missed that one and that’s not allowed.  Perfection or failure, nothing else. That’s how everyone’s judged at their jobs, right? 

Being a referee isn’t worth it to many players because this is the culture we’ve accepted. Somehow, we’ve all decided it’s okay to act like this. As if standing on the sideline watching our son or daughter play soccer gives us a divine right to publicly judge someone else’s son or daughter. After all, we’re the adults – we’re the ones who teach our kids the important things…like respect and how to treat others.

If you want referees at your son or daughter’s game then we need to create a different culture.  One in which we encourage and support instead of criticizing – even when the bad call happens.  Even when it happens again.  Because we don’t get both the right to judge AND plenty of great referees.  We get one or the other.  Which is most important to you? 

Stay United, everyone.

street soccer

In our Street Soccer program, players have the opportunity to create their own teams, make their own calls, and unconsciously develop their technical and tactical awareness–all while expressing themselves with the ball at their feet. We believe players should be able to manage themselves and have the freedom to play, interact, problem-solve, innovate, and take ownership of their participation in the game. Teams are created the day of to promote diversity, and games are played without referees to reinforce positive conflict resolution techniques. Our I-Mentor coaches will supervise each field making sure that players and facilities are safe while maintaining a fun and challenging environment.

PSU’s Street Soccer is open to all 9U to 13U full season players. Our Old School Street Soccer is open to any parent, soccer coach, and their significant others. Bring the whole family!

Adult and youth sign up required for waiver completion. But then just lace up and show up!


Fridays: May 7-June 4, June 18-July 23 (no open play July 2)
Time: 5:30-7:00 pm
Location: Pewaukee Sports Complex