Soccer season in jeopardy

Winter sports officially started practice last Saturday. However, the boys and girls soccer teams may have started practice for naught.

As of the printing of this column, the soccer seasons were in jeopardy. The Southern California Soccer Officials Association (SCSOA) of San Diego has not come to terms with The High School Sports Officiating Coalition, which represents the San Diego CIF in negotiating with officials of all sports.

The SCSOA wants a raise just like the rest of us. If they don’t get what they want, we could be without soccer officials, and as a result we could be without high school soccer season. That sound that you are hearing is the chuckling of the travel and club coaches of America.

It is ironic, almost paradoxical, that there are not enough soccer officials to fill the void. Every soccer match that this writer has attended has had at least 100 more soccer officials in the audience than the three on the field. It is even more ironic that the experts in the stands are so knowledgeable, since many of those experts have never coached, officiated or, in most cases, even played soccer.

Every sport has expert officials in the stands and most of them are very vocal. The CIF has tried to improve the sportsmanship with its Pursuing Victory with Honor campaign, but there are still plenty of vociferous unofficial officials in the stands.

Soccer may not be the biggest offender, but the sport has a history of fan violence. In some countries, they have to build moats around the fields to safeguard the lives of players and officials.

The home team may have to supply its own officials.

“We have been asked to submit a list of local officials that are qualified to officiate soccer matches,” said Coach Michael Jordan II, varsity boys coach at RHS. “Many might think that those officials would have a bias for the home team, especially since they live in the community and would be doing the local games.”

What an understatement. Did the memo really say, “Get a list of your homers, but remember when you go on the road you will be playing matches with the other team’s homers calling the shots?”

I have a better idea. If the negotiations fail we should let the fans call the games. One hundred homers are better than three homers.  They have plenty of experience and we all know that they all know all of the rules. Each team would have to supply 100 flags, 100 yellow cards and 100 red cards to the first 100 paying experts to come through the gates.

The flags and cards could be used to signal off sides and to disqualify the visiting teams’ best players. That way, instead of giving the current officials a raise, we could make money by charging the fans/officials. We could charge extra for the privilege of getting a card or a flag.

Ridiculous, you say? Not as ridiculous as canceling the soccer season and depriving student/athletes a chance of playing, especially the seniors.

Johnny Sorenson is a senior at Ramona High School. He has played on the varsity soccer team for three years. He is looking forward to his senior season and his final year.

He has played his entire career for Ramona teams. “Most of the members of my club team have gone on to college. This may be my last chance to play soccer with my friends and teammates in Ramona. It will be very disappointing if they cancel the season.”  

Johnny is not the only one. Many senior boys and girls may have already played their last game if my plan is not implemented or cooler heads don’t prevail.

The term Soccer Mom could be replaced with the term Soccer Mob, which when you think about it is not a new term or concept.

More irony! Nobody can come up with the money the officials want for a raise, but the club teams are not having any problems finding money for officials, uniforms, travel or lodging. Sports are becoming an endeavor for the rich and well off. Instead of a way out of poverty, sports are becoming a way out of the upper class to the upper upper class. Pay to play is here to stay.

High school sports are all in jeopardy. Soccer is just the first hurdle. The inner city schools are no longer fielding as many competitive teams as they once did. It takes money.

Remember Crawford High School’s football teams? You can’t tell me that there are not as many good athletes in Crawford’s neighborhood as there are in richer neighborhoods. Now the inner city soccer players may no longer have a place to play. How many inner city athletes are on the La Jolla Nomads?

High school soccer is a pain for the club teams, anyway. If the season is canceled, only the poor and needy will be affected. Those soccer officials who want a raise will still be able to officiate club games and tournaments. The rich still have money for officials.

There is no need to cancel the season or the sport. There are plenty of experts in the stands. Let’s use them.

   
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