Going Back to the Future

By Randy Vogt

“Back to the Future 1” is my favorite movie of all time. Movie critic Roger Ebert even compared the movie to another classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as the film shows the power of one individual to make a difference in the world.

An early scene from “Back to the Future 1” has Marty McFly eating dinner with his rather dysfunctional family in 1985. In a following scene, through the intercession of the local scientist, Doc Brown, Marty escapes from terrorists by hopping in Doc’s DeLorean and accidentally going back to 1955. He meets his own mother as a teenager, who it turns out has the hots for him rather than his own father, George McFly.

It all works out in the end. Because of Marty, Goldie Wilson, an African-American teen cleaning the floor of the local malt shop, gets the dream to become mayor. Chuck Berry finds that new sound that he’s been looking for and Marty’s parents fall in love with one another after George finally stands up to the local bully, Biff. The result is that George becomes much more confident and Biff’s defeat also greatly improves George’s reputation in high school. And Marty returns to 1985, where he finds his family is now much more functional as his parents play tennis, his brother has a well-paying job and his sister has more boyfriends than anybody can count.

The sequel, “Back to the Future 2,” takes place in 1955, 1985 and 2015. The date that Marty goes into the future is October 21, 2015. Lots of changes in our world from 1955 to 1985 and from 1985 to 2015 but one thing that has not changed is the power of an individual to make a difference. Go through the annals of history and you will find it’s the individual, not a committee, who change the world.

The power of the individual is very noticeable even in the team sport of youth soccer. Yes, there are players who make a real difference on the field both in positive and negative terms. The player who can score in an instant and change the game but also, the player who trash talks or who constantly tries to get under the opponent’s skin.

For the purposes of this article, I will concentrate mainly on authority figures and the way they affect youth soccer.

The referee needs to deal with the coach who gives a running commentary of the officiating. If the coach is allowed to continue, players will concentrate on what’s being called or not and the ref could lose control of the game.

Worse than that is the coach who teaches his players gamesmanship during practice sessions. If I see kids run up to the ball to prevent free kicks from being taken quickly and running after the ball even though it’s not their throw-in, I know they’ve been coached that way. These coaches, who remind me a bit of Biff, need to change their ways or find something else to do rather than messing with our sport.

But it cuts both ways. The ref who somehow thinks the game revolves around him or her or hardly moves out of the kickoff circle also needs to find another hobby.

People eventually force the Biffs from youth soccer and I never saw a negative coach or ref years later. Like “Back to the Future,” it would be great if we could give kids’ parents a new attitude too. Those parents who worry about wins and losses plus college scholarships do not have their heart in the right place as all they should be concerned about is whether their kids are having fun. If the kids have fun and have a coach who cares about them, they will develop as players and a lot of good things will follow.

Thankfully, there are many more Marty McFly’s than Biffs in youth soccer. If there were not, I would have quit refereeing a long time ago as officiating would not be enjoyable with all the conflict.

“Back to the Future 1” had a profound effect on me in another way. What does George McFly do at the end of the movie? He authors a book!

(Randy Vogt has officiated over 9,000 games during the past three decades, from professional matches in front of thousands to 6-year-olds being cheered on by very enthusiastic parents. In Preventive Officiating, he shares his wisdom gleaned from thousands of games and hundreds of clinics to help referees not only survive but thrive on the soccer field. You can visit the book’s website at

5 comments about "Going Back to the Future".
  1. humble 1, October 21, 2015 at 12:10 p.m.

    Another take on gamesmanship. My son is a pretty savvy player at nine. He will do the things you describe and more. All he learned of gamesmanship was not from his coaches, but from watching soccer on TV. We watch a lot of South American soccer ;). I've asked him a number of times after watching him whether he was coached on that particular action, and he never, not once told me he was coached.

  2. ROBERT BOND, October 21, 2015 at 3:04 p.m.

    refs here always want to whistle every free kick......2015 headline-"Cubs win World Series"!

  3. Randy Vogt replied, October 22, 2015 at 6:20 a.m.

    Great Scott! The Cubs were eliminated from the playoffs on Back to the Future Day.

  4. Bob Ashpole, October 21, 2015 at 5:18 p.m.

    Excellent article. One of your best.

  5. David Israel, October 22, 2015 at 4:16 p.m.

    "Those parents who worry about wins and losses plus college scholarships do not have their heart in the right place as all they should be concerned about is whether their kids are having fun."

    Wins and losses yes but college scholarships? What is wrong with wanting some advantage in college applications from soccer? Back to the Future is the last movie to use to deny an attempt at bettering your station.

    Offhand I don't see why an education in soccer is so different from any other form of education. Yes kids should enjoy themselves but college applications and other social advantages will still be a consideration.

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