By Leslie Parks - Friday, October 25, 2013

I don't understand but Isaac really doesn't like reffing.  He keeps asking me how I feel about someone constantly complaining about my decisions and being yelled at while working.  I had to think about that for a minute and then realized that he was describing parenting teenagers.  Hmmm.  He hasn't used that argument again.  Then he was taking a break from studying for a test and I asked him to sign up for one more Reffing game.  He told me that he didn't want to do anything mentally challenging during his break.  Hmm, checking an online site so he could make more money was mentally challenging but watching a football replay on his ipod wasn't.  We had a good laugh over that one.  The other day, I showed up to Job's middle school soccer game to watch, take pictures, and cheer.  The referee was late, so late that he never did show up.  Job's coach asked me if I could get Isaac so he could ref that game.  I quickly drove to the high school to pick up Isaac from his Tennis meet (he was done) so he could stand in for the Ref.  Job's coach was out there reffing and coaching the game at the same time.  When Isaac showed up, all the parents started chanting his name, "ISAAC, ISAAC, ISAAC".  He wanted to let the coach do it, but it was so much better for the coach to coach and have a separate Referee.  I watched Isaac out there and realized how much I like to watch him Ref.  I really think that he's good at it.  He takes command of the game, he's conscientious, and is professional.  He doesn't let the kids or the coaches push him around. As I see it, he could really make some money with this and not have to have a job at McDonalds. He could have most of the summer days to hang out.  In four weeks he made about $200 but only worked about 3 hours a week.  Minimum wage for 14 to 15 year olds is a little less than $8/hour.  Hmm, that is pretty good.  I am sure it will sink in once he has that McDonald job and receives his first paycheck. 
The initial outlay to becoming a Referee is $120, for class fees and uniforms, and it can be discouraging at first to recoup that money.  Kids often think it's all fun but when they are out there in the rain and sometimes snow it doesn't seem as fun.  The first time they take the class, their badge is good for a year and a half before they have to renew and they keep their uniform so it's not like the outlay is that amount each season. Referees start off as center Referees for U6 games and work their way up.  Once they have their blue badge, and work up to refereeing U8 and U9 games, they can go on and earn their black badge and that allows them to Referee older kids.  They can also take classes to learn to Assistant Referee and work tournaments that way during the summer.  Each level of ages is a different pay level.  Last summer Isaac worked on Wednesday evening being an Assistant Referee and making $18 a game for running lines.  As an assistant, he's responsible for running along the sideline for half the field and calling off -sides, the ball being out, or corner/goal kicks.  If his call is different than the center referee calls, then they talk about it or just go with the center referee's call.  Any complaints are then taken to the center referee.  I really don't think it's that that bad of a gig. 
I can see at least 10 benefits for them in being referees.  1) They are outside being active.  2) They are learning to be responsible to get to the game on time and have their gear they need. 3) They are learning leadership skills.  4) They are learning what it takes to make money.  5) They are learning to take criticism.  6) They are having fun with other kids.  7) They are learning what it takes to be dependable.  8) They can become a go-to person.  9) They can become mentors and work with younger referees. 10) John and I are alone in the house for a whole afternoon! (That's problem the most important one)
There are downsides to it as well. I guess the other week, a coach was complaining to Isaac about his call.  Isaac told him what the rules were and he continued to complain, walking on the field towards him.  Isaac told him to go back to his bench or he would be removed from the game.  I think it takes a lot of guts to say that to an adult when you're 15 years old.  I just want to be sure that it's respectfully done.  Lona had a situation where the parents and coach were complaining too and her game was a U7 game.  These kids are just learning to play, they are only 6 years old.  In fact they don't even have goalies and it's more boot ball than soccer.  At that point I think it's a little ridiculous that the parents are saying anything.  Her first week, she told a girl that she couldn't play with earrings in and the coach complained about that. Lona told the coach to go talk to her boss but that was the rule.  I like it when the kids stand up (respectfully) for their decisions. 
Job, well he just knows the rules of the game inside and out.  When Lona has a question about a situation, she goes to Job. He's like a walking rule book.  He took the initiative this year to earn his black badge.  Some of the kids he refs are bigger than he his but he does know his stuff.  He usually works between 3 and 5 games on a Saturday.  He hasn't complained of the cold which usually gets him.  He shows up around 8:30 and comes home around 3:30 or 4.  He has been a hard worker, often requesting more than 3 games a weekend. 

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