Quick Mandy Moment
I read more and more about sport officials being abused, battered, threatened and killed, and it gets me pretty angry. I get angry that it happened at all, which I feel is a pretty reasonable way to feel. I get angry that often the offender feels right in their actions, blames the emotion of the game, and expects to go on without repercussions. I get really angry when I read and hear that people (real, live people) don’t see the big deal, fail to see why criminal charges should be allowed. If it’s during a soccer game or basketball game, it’s not assault, it’s “part of the game.” That’s toxic thinking and this girl thinks it’s time to cut it out.
My world is about crime and punishment.
I’m a parent, so I decide what’s against the rules and I decide what an appropriate punishment is going to be. I have a job (a really great one), and I have to abide by a certain set of rules to keep that job. And if I don’t follow the rules, I’m subject to discipline the same way my children are subject to discipline at home.
I’m also a soccer referee, so I deal with crime and punishment on the soccer field – where I don’t make the rules, and I don’t receive the punishment. I enforce the rules. (I may not necessarily see it this way but to make it black and white) When you commit a foul on the soccer field, that’s like committing a crime (they are called laws, after all). There’s a prescribed way that I deal with infringement. I don’t make up what the discipline is going to be or what the next phase of play is going to be. It’s not arbitrary. It’s just not up to me.
Referees on the soccer field or in the rink or on the court are so valuable. They’re able to look, with an unbiased eye, at the situations that unfold in front of them. They are trained to recognise infringement, and they’re trained in what procedure to follow when an infringement occurs. Despite what may be said, I’ve never met a fellow referee who ever made decisions based on a personal bias against a player or team.
It may surprise players to know that often, referees feel bad giving out sanctions (ok, maybe not often, but sometimes). We’re human, and we know they are, too. We understand that there’s an element of luck (good or bad, depending on where you’re standing) and that you probably (think ‘c’mon ref, I didn’t mean to‘) didn’t mean it, but that doesn’t change what actually happened. What actually happened was that an infringement occurred, and there’s a sanction. When we all agreed to participate in the game, we agreed to abide by the rules, regardless of what uniform we wear.
That’s organized society. That’s how all of society works. Infringement, sanctions. Crimes, punishments. When we work, when we drive, when we enter into legally binding agreements; we are partaking in the privileges of living in a organized society. Where there are rules. There are checks and balances. There’s order.
When we allow people to infringe on our rules and go against the procedures that have been put in place, we do ourselves a disservice. When we allow people to act with bias or prejudice, we make it acceptable for people to repeat the same infringements.
We live in a world where social media allows us to see every little thing. Images, videos, stories; they go viral. We love debating it. We love trying to place it on a scale for how severe it is. That needs to stop. It’s cut and dry. You recognize the infringement, then you implement the procedure. Whether it’s in the workplace, out on the pitch, or at home with my family – and all the drives in between – I’m submitting myself to a society that is organized, with rules, and I agree to abide by them. I don’t expect to be an exception if I infringe on the laws or the rules. I expect to be dealt the same process as anyone else.
That’s organized society, and I’m a fan.