Sunday, April 20, 2008

Deer Path Park

I can still run.

I ran at Deer Path Park yesterday. I ran about 7.5 miles on the cross-country course. I forgot how great that course is. It was a lot of fun. I wore my Nike cross-country spikes.

I was at the park because my son had a soccer game there. I am glad I got the run in, because the soccer game was horrible. My son is running his second year of middle school track. Yesterday's game may have been the soccer game that turns my son into a full-time runner. I am hoping it is. I used to get a lot of my distance runners during track season from the soccer team back in the early 1980's when I coached track.

I had one perspective on the game, and I am not a trained coach or referee. I just have not been watching soccer long enough in my lifetime to be an authority on this. But I will tell you my perspective. I couldn't swear it was right. When watching a game, everyone sees things differently.

First half: the game was rough. I don't feel referees had it under control from about 10 minutes into the game. The other team was very aggressive, especially towards the Cobras' offense. You know how these things can escalate. As a result, our players got aggressive. There was pushing and shoving, a lot of speedy plays where players banged into each other. That is soccer. Some yellow cards were handed out, at least once to the wrong player in the scuffle - for example when Ross got the yellow because he responded to the other team's player blatantly pushing him. They both probably should have gotten cards. But I am not a referee. It is the referee who decided to hand out only one yellow card.

Second half: Allegedly, the sideline refs were missing calls on both sides. The one on the spectator side was missing offside calls. The one on the team side was miscalling outs and not judging fouls in the goal box. I could not swear to these allegations in court, but that is what Coach Mark and other spectators claim. There was one instance when a player waited for the ref to turn and then pushed one of the players on my son's team. A lot of people were yelling at the ref: Coach Mark, spectators, players - the players were having words with each other on the field and with the spectators.

End of game: I am not sure exactly what precipitated Mitchell to fight with the other player. I have always known Mitch is a bit of a rough player himself, and hotheaded. He was first to run over and strike another player. Players came off the bench and joined, parents came out and joined. It was the worst example of a soccer game I have ever witnessed. The parents who stepped in, both coaches and all the refs should be ashamed of themselves. I can not believe that both coaches were unable to control their players, and that three referees did not get a handle on this game a lot earlier, before a fight broke out.

It was Mitch's decision to fight that really ruined the game and caused a big pile-on in the field. For that reason, in my opinion, Mitch should not be allowed to ever participate in any part of our soccer club from now on. His action was the decisive point that ruined the game for everyone. (I don't think he has ever had a parent at a game or practice, by the way.) Yet, Mitch is not 100% at fault. Both coaches, the refs, and every parent who ran out on the field should be somewhat accountable. I am not sure those parents and coaches realize there was not one college scout at that game, and in perspective, the win or loss means nothing.

When people were leaving, the player from the other team ran over and attacked Mitch again, unprovoked by the my son's team. (Was he encouraged by support from his team mates, coach and parents? Who knows.) That was a mistake, because he got taken down by several kids on the team. Again, I can not believe coaches and parents could not control their kids. It was a disgusting scene that I wanted no part of.

My son did not even play in the game. Which is weird, he usually starts and plays at least half or 3/4 of the game. It was as if Coach Mark was hypnotized by the game, despite being reminded to make substitutions. Perhaps he was determined to leave who he felt were his best, most aggressive players in, to oppose this team - I am just guessing. My son was the only player from either team that did not leave the sideline and join the on-field pile-up fight.

When he came over to me he said, "Dad, I don't think I need to be on this team anymore." I didn't disagree with him.

We got into my car to go when the first cop car pulled up. On the way out we saw three more on their way there. I do not know what happened after I left, and I frankly didn't care.

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