• The Accidental Ref asks: How and why did you start?
    I was 15 years old when one of my soccer coaches, Gordon Barr (son of U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer George Barr), called me up and wanted to know if I would like to become an intramural ref in the soccer club I was playing for, the Syosset Soccer Club on Long Island. I declined as I thought who would want to become a ref as that person is yelled at and booed.
  • The Importance of Being an Assistant Referee
    I started refereeing in New York in 1978. One of the things that was interesting about refereeing is it was very much an individual pursuit for me as nearly all games in New York in the 1970s and 1980s, with the exception of semifinal and final games, plus a few other notable games, were officiated by one referee with the help of two club linesmen, who simply raised the flag when the ball was over the touchline.
  • Advice for young referees -- and a plea to the adults who scream at them
    I was asked to give some words of encouragement to young refs who would be refereeing their club's intramural games. The refs were from 10 to 14 years old and they ref players age 6 to 12. Two refs to a game, one on each touchline, on small-sided fields, the largest which is 65 x 35 yards.
  • The most difficult role in officiating: assisting a poor referee
    So I've officiated lots of games and realize what is my most difficult job as an official. And it's not what you might think.
  • Referee Watch: When does the half end?
    Soccer is that rare sport where official time is kept on the field by the referee.
  • Soccer's Only Complicated Rule: Offside
    I was an assistant referee and yellow was up 1-0 in the closing seconds of a Boys High School Summer League semifinal game. A maroon attacker was at the top of the penalty arc and he played the ball to a teammate a half-yard offside on my near side of the field, inside the penalty area.
  • How youth soccer has changed in the past four decades
    Having officiated my 10,000th game on August 8 gave me a chance to reflect on the many changes that have occurred on the American youth soccer landscape since when I took up the whistle in 1978 and was a youth player in the 1970's. Here are some of them:
  • Mission Accomplished: The 10,000th game
    Some Soccer Americans might recall the name of Dani Braga, the starting goalkeeper when St. John's University won the 1996 NCAA men's soccer national championship. The Red Storm's 4-1 victory over Florida International University had the unusual fact that in the FIU goal was Dani's Syosset High School teammate, Sal Fontana. Both Dani (pronounced like "Donnie") and Sal played in goal for different teams for the Syosset Soccer Club in the Long Island Junior Soccer League when they were growing up.
  • Beware of referee fatigue
    Much has been written in the media about player fatigue, whether it's professional teams playing three games in eight days or youth squads playing four or five games in a weekend tournament. And rightly so! But while player fatigue is an obvious issue, what has been overlooked is referee fatigue.
  • The Road to 10,000 Games (Part 2): How I'll commemorate the milestone game
    In my last article, I wrote about some highs and lows in officiating thousands of soccer games. My game count is now above 9,950 so if I continue my current pace, barring a tragedy or serious injury, I would officiate my 10,000th game in the next couple of months.
  • The Road to 10,000 Games
    It has been said that a referee never has a home game. But this is negative thinking and I have officiated thousands of soccer games so, on fields that I have officiated a good deal, I could be more familiar with them and the surroundings than the home team. Plus, I often see a friendly face on the field or on the touchline so, for me, more and more games seem like home games. Only four times in 2016 did I officiate at a field I had never been to and only four times so far this year.
  • And the Refs Who Do Care
    Recently, I wrote about the refs who don't care. They are the refs who do as little as humanly possible to survive on the soccer field that day.
  • The Refs Who Don't Care
    I was appalled as I saw my colleagues officiating. I was to ref the next game at the field and saw the ref, on a warm day on a turf field, wearing a short-sleeve referee shirt and black sweatpants. There was only one assistant referee and he was thankfully wearing black referee shorts but his black socks were pulled down to his ankles (maybe to avoid the "referee tan") and he was also wearing gray running shoes instead of black. Because of their diverse outfits, they did not look like a team. The other touchline was manned by a club ...
  • Reffing corner kicks: Don't ignore the grabbing and holding
    Soccer's last rule, Law 17, is on corner kicks. The corner kick must be placed inside the corner area (formerly called "corner arc") nearest to the point the ball crossed the goal line. Which is interesting as the goal kick can be kicked from either side of the goal area, no matter which side of the goal that the ball crossed the goal line, but the ball on a corner kick must be kicked from the corner on the side that the ball went over the goal line.
  • How refs spot off-the-ball fouls
    You can never relax while driving and the same is true when officiating a soccer game. Years ago, I heard many officials say, "I'm just a linesman," and a new crop of officials say "I'm just an assistant referee" when given an assignment not in the middle. Although the term for that official might have changed, unfortunately the attitude of some officials has not as it's a privilege to be given an assignment, no matter where you are on the field.
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