Most importantly, there is a majority of youth soccer players, teams, leagues and districts that choose not to use profanity at their sporting events. You know whom you are and after reading this, I trust you will feel appreciated (at least by me) for your behavior.
And if the title of my article seems inflammatory, it is only a ploy to gain your attention and hopefully elicit a response. There are a lot of positive things to be observed at youth soccer games; it's just too bad I cannot bring my young children to them without worrying about what they will hear.
And a comment from a new spectator to youth soccer games, a professional, highly placed employee of the federal government: "I keep my kids away from PG and PG- 13 movies because of the language and now I bring them to a youth soccer soccer game to listen to this?
- At a State Cup preliminary tournament game last spring, hearing a youth soccer coach give several of his players pre-game instructions, using what is considered the most foul word in our language, as an adjective/adverb throughout his talk.
- Later in that game, a youth soccer player instructing spectator to procreate.
- At an Association Cup game, a youth soccer player continuing to use profanity, very loudly, despite several verbal warnings from the referee. After receiving an eventual send off; the player yelled to his coach "I didn't do a @#$ thing!" The profanity continued from that individual throughout the match. After the game, the youth soccer coach approached the center official, explained that the player was used to talking that way and "could the red card please be RESCINDED?"
- Complaints from many parents and players and the two youth soccer coaches, from a team in an Association Cup quarterfinal, that the most frequent words coming from the field began with the letters ... well, you know what I mean; And the center official never took any action.
The profanity I am referring to is NOT the utterance of a curse under one's breath after a bad play, heard only by a few. And I am not referring to words that were considered obscene when I was younger, but are considered proper vocabulary today by the entertainment media and politicians. I AM referring to the basic hardcore foul language, used at decibel levels for every-one at the field to hear, or specifically and loudly directed at an opponent or spectator. Believe me, I have heard plenty on the field that I have not taken action on, other than a quick word to keep your language under control." In some areas of our association, it is not a problem. However, in other districts, it seems to be commonplace and accepted by all. Boys over the age of 13 appear to be the worse offenders.
Last year, I issued four or five send-offs for foul and abusive language, despite the fact that I ALWAYS instruct all players on Law XII, part 4(p) before every game. Had I officiated at other games, that number may have doubled.
What did I hear from youth soccer coaches about the send-offs? That I was incompetent, prissy and the proverbial "I-want-your-badge number." One youth soccer coach said that profane language was acceptable to the players' high school coaches, high school teachers and parents, so I should be more lenient.
And what have I heard from other referees? To use selective deafness," "all-the-kids-do-it," (something I would expect from 'a 15 year old rather than an adult, and NO most kids' choose not to yell #$% at the top of their lungs in a public area). I have been told to stop issuing so many send-offs for language. One official from outside CYSA told me his organization would NEVER send off a player for foul and abusive language. I have found the PAD committees to be supportive - my hat's off to them.
I do note that CYSA has two specific bylaws regarding this behavior - 3:06:05(E) and 4:08:02(B) (1) and (2), if you wish to review them. They can be found in any CYSA team manual.
California has more cultural diversity than any other state in the union. To thrive, we must be tolerant of each other's values, beliefs and social mores. But that should not include having to tolerate language deemed offensive by most for the allowances of a few. Should we edit FIFA regulations, ignore our by4aws and stifle our own values and host our sporting events at the level of the lowest common denominator?
Are youth soccer coaches and officials sending the correct message to our youth by ignoring profanity? Let me ask you a question. Would you hire a recent high school graduate for your company who thought it was proper to use profanity in public? My answer would be no.
If you as a spectator, parent, youth soccer player or official feel strongly one way or another regarding this matter, please voice your opinion by writing to this publication. I would be interested in hearing it. My hope is that others feel as I do and would desire the association to give prodding where needed to eliminate this present black eye. Then I can bring my family to a competitive youth soccer game and let them watch an event hosted by the best youth sports association in the world, without having that uneasy feeling in my stomach about what they may hear...
This article was written as a 'Special to Soccer California'
by Dave Donahue, who is a CYSA parent, youth soccer coach, official, league/club board member and fan.
FUNdamental reader - should you have some special comments to make about this subject. Or if you have some special subject of your own to write about. We would be pleased to publish them in future issues!