So you’re a fan of the game of soccer. That’s great, we need people who are passionate about the sport, and want to help it grow. However, just because you are a fan of the game doesn’t mean that you get to act however you please. Just because you want your team to win, and want to help them to achieve this goal, doesn’t give you the right to do anything in your power to try and help them. Yelling at the referees, opposing players, or even members of the team that you support because you feel that they are not playing well enough in your opinion, is not positive fan behavior. This is especially true if you’re a parent of a player, as you are expected to be a positive role model, and a positive influence on the game. You need to be supportive, not negative. Don’t focus on tearing down your opponents, but rather focus on building up the team that you support and that you want to do well. If you are a parent of a player remember the coach has your child’s best interest at heart to. If you’re not a parent, remember that the player you are harassing is somebody else’s kid. Be cognizant that if you are yelling, and acting in negative manner, would you really want to have that behavior mimicked by your kids or by other young children? Screaming at the other team isn’t it going to help your team win, and if anything, it just makes you look bad.
While traditionally coaches of teams don’t have many issues with their opposing counterparts, or the players on the other team, issues can still occasionally occur that can lead to potentially negative situations. With that in mind it is important to remain respectful when dealing with coaches and members of another team. Sometimes you might not like the opposing coach or the other team, and whether or not you win or lose, you might want to just yell at them because it makes you feel better. Coaches are human being too, and as a coach you can sometimes get riled up by the opponents. However, remember that when you have a negative interaction with another coach or player on another team, you are essentially telling your players that it’s ok to act in this manner, and that these types of behaviors are normal and acceptable. Sometimes you need to be the bigger person, and to remember you’re the role model and often the face of your team. Team’s and players often take on the identify and values of their coach, and how you act on the field will often dictate how your players act on the field. If the coach or a player of an opposing team is crossing the line, use it as a learning experience for your players, and explain to them why those actions are not appropriate. Turn a negative into a positive by teaching your players how they should be acting.
Crossing the line as a player also deals with how you interact with your opponents and your teammates. We all know that everyone out on the field is competitive and wants to win. Sometimes this means that people just get a little too competitive. Sometimes other players provoke you (intentionally or not). When this happens, it is important to make sure that you don’t cross line. Rather than react to the opponent that is needling you, rise above it and be the bigger person. Getting mad and using slurs or bad language against your opponent isn’t going to help. In fact, it just tells them that they have succeeded in getting under your skin. You’re so focused on them that you have forgotten to focus on yourself and how you are playing. By reacting to your opponents and getting involved in verbal and/or physical confrontations with players on the other team you are essentially doing their job for them by throwing off your own game. Make sure that you don’t cross the line, instead ignore the things that are said to you. Be positive in your interactions with your opponents, and focus on helping your teammates out. If something happens that really offends or upsets you, tell your coach, or the referee and make sure that the person who crossed the line knows that what they did was wrong! Remember that the referee is there to help to police the game, they can be a great help when it comes to dealing with disrespectful opponents!
So what does it look like to cross the line as a player? Well let’s start with the easy example. I am of course talking about interacting with referees. Picture this, it’s the heat of the game, it’s a tight game, you’re working hard, and suddenly the referee makes a bad call! What do you do? It’s the referee’s fault that now you’re going lose the game! You’re mad, you’re angry, you’re upset! So you start yelling at the ref, telling them that they are the worst, that they stink at their job!
But yelling at the referee isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, it just makes you look bad. If you go far enough, it could even get you kicked out of the game, hurting your team even more than the bad call did. Instead of yelling at the referee, focus on what you can control. Control the controllables, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control if the ref will make the make right call or not, sometimes you can’t even control the way that the ball bounces. All you can control is how you’re playing, and how you react to any of these challenges. By focusing on playing your best and trying and overcoming these challenges rather than losing your temper anytime something goes against you, you’re actually going to probably have a better impact on the game than just yelling at the referee for messing up would have. Plus, you’re going to look a lot better in the eyes of your teammates, fans, parents, and coaches, all while setting a great example for everyone else on the field.