Reffing with A.D.D.

Discussion in 'Referee' started by Scott Zawadzki, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Scott Zawadzki

    Feb 18, 1999
    Midlothian, VA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Scott: Hello, my name is Scott and I have a severe case of Attention Deficit Disorder.

    Forum Members: Hi Scott!

    I have a disability, a severe medically-documented case of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I take medication which allows me to be a relatively sane, productive member of society.

    This is not something I have shared with the forum in the past. Hopefully this thread may help myself get through some issues and help other along the way. Right now, I'm trying to decide if I should no longer work as an outdoor USSF official in "competitive" matches. In order for you to understand what I (and maybe other referees) go through, you should understand the disorder.

    In a nutshell, this disorder entails the inability to block out unnecessary stimuli. While the average referee may be able to focus singularly on the play in front of him, I have to deal with the dog barking 100 yards away (I don't just know its a dog barking, I know it's a tricolored beagle being held by leash by an attractive blond), the little kids playing on the playground swing (I know how many boys, how many girls and who is fighting with who for the good swing), the hawk circling over the field (not the same one as we saw last week though, much wider wingspan), sideline conversation about little Sally's dance class (dad really doesn't want Sally dancing as she will have to miss 3 soccer practices), etc... It does take some extra mental effort and a bit of medication, but I manage to get though these seemingly minor issues quite well IMHO.

    The things that I have a hard time with, and should not have to deal with, are coaches going overboard on the sideline which will inevitably incite their parents over the other side of the field. Most times, coaches and parents recognize that I hustle and call a very fair match. Some may not understand why I'm not calling as many fouls as they are used to and why I don't seem to understand that I'm supposed to stop play when the ball and arm collide, but all in all, they are usually smart enough to see that I'm making the same calls for and against each team. There are other cases which ruin the game for everybody.

    There of course are other coaches (and in turn parents) who tend to go off the deep end. My biggest problem is that I'm constantly being told to just "tune coaches out" and "not to pay attention". I can't help but to pay attention to everything that goes on around me. Under the right conditions, this disorder helps me to be one hell of a good referee. My big problem is coaches and parents of the youth game who feel it is there birthright to harass me as a game official when things don't go their way.

    I'm sure that we probably have refs on this board who suffer from ADD or know of another referee with ADD. How do you handle "blocking out" the abusive coach?

    For those who don't understand the world I live in, if nothing else perhaps this thread will give you a better understanding of certain "quirks" you've seen in your fellow officials.

    Thanks in advance,

    Scott
     
  2. nsa

    nsa Member+

    New England Revolution; Boston Breakers
    United States
    Feb 22, 1999
    Notboston, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Toss him/her.

    Has anyone used this line to needle you?
    [stage whisper] "I think the ref forgot to take his meds today." ;)

    It could have been a lion at the end of the leash for all I care. But I did notice she wasn't wearing ...

    :)
     
  3. Alberto

    Alberto Member+

    Feb 28, 2000
    Northern, New Jersey
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Hi Scott!

    I can't block it out either. The reason being for the reasons stated in your post. The negative effects it causes others, particularly players. Parents and coaches are supposed to set an example for their players. In our everyday lives if a co-worker spoke to us the way many people do to referees there would be an immediate conference with HR on how to deal with abusive and harrassing behavior. I use to turn a deaf ear as has been advocated. I think we reinforce negative behavior by allowing it to go unchecked. My general rule of thumb is if it's phrased in a question or request for clarification I'm happy. The coaches and players deserve an explanation. If it's condescending, rude or meant to show me up, I might call out "Sir you coach I referee". If it continues, I'll have a word and remind the offending party that I am an adult and that they would not act that way with their boss, coworkers or spouse and to concentrate on playing or coaching the game. Next time it's a caution to players and a trip to the parking lot for the coaches. Too many matches have been spoiled due to intolerable behavior from coaches and parents. The negative effects on players particularly to youth footballers is incontrovertible.

    This weekend I did a men's state cup match. Late in the match one of the players committed a foul and in the process of fouling took a shot to the legs. He sprang up and started yelling and screaming what the hell did I see. I told him a foul the other way. He ran up to me yelling and screaming right in my face. He was inches from me and I sent him off. His dad who is a fellow referee, pleaded with me to give him a caution, not the send off. I told him my decision is made. Furthermore, there was a group of U12 or U14 girls warming up for the game following this match. What a terrible example to set. The players dad said, I was nice to you the whole game it was a yellow card. I said no. He then got belligerent and started yelling I'm not leaving without my card. I reminded him that I was and regardless of whether the player was his son or not he needed to recognize he was out of control.

    I believe we ask what's only fair. We treat players as adults they need to return the same to referees. So by permitting nonsense to occur at the youth ranks it lowers the standards of behavior for everyone and makes the mens matches difficult to manage due to dissent. That is sad.
     
  4. Scott Zawadzki

    Feb 18, 1999
    Midlothian, VA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Yes, but I let my wife get away with it.

    Scott
     
  5. jacathcart

    jacathcart New Member

    Oct 11, 2002
    Tacoma WA
    Hi Scott!

    There are a great many instances in life where there is great tension and emotion and where very important consequences result - yet in virtually any of those we would be jailed or fired, or savaged one way or the other if we reacted in ways that are commonplace in sports.

    Why is it only in sports that adults are not expected and required to act with maturity and people are given passes for the most boorish and abusive and physically assaultive behavior?

    I'm with Alberto - the problem is not that Scott can't tune out the idiots - the problem is that there are idiots who are not squashed on the spot. Even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked - and every ref knows the difference between a reflexive cry of dismay and foul and abusive language. We all know the the difference between the pained "Oh Ref!" and the hassling from the sidelines.

    Why do we accept it? Why do we cheer when baseball umpires and managers act like children?

    I'm with Alberto - tell 'em to button it or leave. I've never yet met a youth player who was happy his dad or his coach was being a jackass on the sidelines.

    And Scott - thanks for taking a risk to remind us that there are many stories out there and its easy to leap to wrong conclusions about people's actions and the reasons for them. We are all behind you.

    Jim
     
  6. Alberto

    Alberto Member+

    Feb 28, 2000
    Northern, New Jersey
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re: Re: Reffing with A.D.D.

    I always find it interesting that players and coaches use the excuse that soccer is a passionate game and that emotions got the better of these individuals in certain instances and that otherwise they are okay. I can buy that from a youth player stand point. Clearly during puberty players are much more sensitive and I am willing to make an accommodation by taking the time to speak to them regarding the consequences of their actions and to remind them of their need to think things out and to realize there are consequences for their actions especially for players that have been fouled and may contemplate a retaliatory foul. The offending player needs to be dealt with and the injured party needs to know he will be a cautioned or a sent off if they retaliate.

    Perhaps because many of us started at the youth level we tolerated boorish behavior on the part of adolescents, explaining it away as coming with the territory of dealing with adolescents, but in the process contributed to the issues of misconduct and dissent we see in so many mens and professional matches.
     
  7. Greyhnd00

    Greyhnd00 New Member

    Jan 17, 2000
    Rediculously far nor
    While this post really has two big thrusts let me focus on the ADD part for a moment. Use the condition to your advantage. You have a gift that others do not and you can either choose to fight it or embrace it, either way it will still be a part of you..............oh yeah.... and send off those idiot coaches.
     
  8. Scott Zawadzki

    Feb 18, 1999
    Midlothian, VA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    Like I said before, when I'm allowed to focus in on the match, I can see everything much more clearly than as average ref...as it sounds like you know, it's part of the ADD. For example, I can't see what everybody has such a hard time seeing offside for. All you have to do is watch for when the ball is last played, where the 2nd last defender is and wherer the attacker is! :) . For someone like me, that's easy. So yes, when I ref and can focus, I use my 'special talents' to my advantage.


    Scott
     
  9. jacathcart

    jacathcart New Member

    Oct 11, 2002
    Tacoma WA
    Re: Re: Re: Reffing with A.D.D.

    During the late unpleasantries in Vietnam I was involved in many occasions where the emotions of fear, terror, pride, etc were full in each of us and where the stakes were lives. Yet I never saw a commander under those great stresses act like parents and coaches do on the sidelines or in other sporting venues. If a commander had blown his stack that way he would have been relieved in a heartbeat. So I place NO credence in the "emotion of the moment" *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#. After all, since the NBA instituted the "leave the bench- leave the game" rule the number of brawls dropped dramatically - because there is a consequence.

    I say - for the adults, cheer for the kids, and keep your complaints for the backyard barbecue afterwards. For kids I will take youth into account but it is not an insulation against consequences either.

    You guys are right again - think of how many more youth refs we would keep if they were treated with respect and as fallible humans who are learning as well. Sometimes its all I can do not to shout "Got megged, eh, doofus - that must have made you feel dumb!" or "Great coaching dipstick! That's 5 times you've been caught on the offside trap!"

    Jim
     

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