become a soccer referee

9 Reasons You Should Become A Soccer Referee

It's a challenging job, but it will make you stronger in so many ways.

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When I first decided to follow my father and sign up for a soccer referee training course, I was a shy, unconfident kid who knew little about the job, except that it involved blowing a whistle and running around a field.

I soon learned that being a soccer referee meant much more: it was the responsibility of running a soccer game and making sure it was safe, fun, fair, and running smoothly.

I was super nervous during my first few games, even though I was just an assistant referee for nine-year-old players. Slowly, over many seasons, I found my voice. I went from being too shy and nervous to blow the whistle to have the confidence to tell off a grown man.

Being a referee has done wonders for my confidence. Here are nine reasons you should consider signing up for a referee course yourself!

1. You can get paid to ref!

Broke college kids, you heard me right! The pay depends on your town and the age level of the players, but I can almost guarantee that you'll be paid more than your current minimum wage job.

2. You’ll learn how to make a split-second decision and own it.

When you're running down the field and you see a foul occur, you have only a few seconds to decide to call it or not. Your first few games, you WILL be nervous. You WILL wonder if it's really a foul or not. But you just have to make a decision and go with it.

3. You'll learn how to trust yourself. 

Even as a new referee, you'll probably have hours of training under your belt. You probably know how to identify a foul or offside correctly without much thought.

Sometimes, the correct call is a nuance in the laws, and even though you know you're right, everybody will be screaming that you're wrong. Sometimes, you will have to call fouls against the same team over and over because they keep committing them, but the coach will scream that you "have it out for their team."

Trust yourself and make the call!

4. You’ll understand why learning from your mistakes is so important.

You will make mistakes, and some of them will be so severe that they alter the course of the game (ie: incorrectly awarding a goal to a team, causing them to win). But what can you do after the game? Usually, not much. It's easy to feel upset or discouraged after any small or large blunder on the field, but you just have to analyze what you did wrong, figure out how you can do better next time, and let it go.

5. You will learn not to care when you have awkward moments in front of dozens of people.

I can't even remember all the awkward things I've done as a ref. I've accidentally dropped my whistle while everybody was waiting for me to start the game, tripped over myself while running along the sidelines and had my voice crack while talking to a senior ref. Everybody has their awkward moments, and just because you're supposed to be a leader doesn't mean you won't have them either.

6. You’ll realize that no matter what decision you make in life, someone will show dissent. Especially when it’s in the form of twenty or thirty people hurling insults at you from the sidelines while you run by them.

"Ref, what game are YOU watching?"

"Come on ref, don't be stupid! That's right I'm talking to you!"

"This referee team has no idea what they're doing!"

Ultimately, whatever the spectators think DOES. NOT. MATTER. You are the referee, and you are the most knowledgeable person on the field, and this is your game. Eventually you'll find that criticism doesn't even faze you as you continue the game.

This is a HUGE learning moment for you - because you learn to stand your ground while being shouted at by parents, players and coaches.

This is a very difficult skill and repeated practice at this will make you better in life - whether its a job interview, defending your Ph.D. thesis, or presenting next months sales projections to the executive team!

And, of course, practice will make you better.



7. You’ll learn how to keep your composure in difficult situations.

At the end of the game, you might be shaking hands with, making eye contact with, and saying "good game" to a person who absolutely hates your guts at that moment. And with time, you'll gain the confidence to do this.

8. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for the sport.

Soccer can be intense, thrilling, and emotional, even at the kids' level. You'll realize this from seeing the game at a unique angle.

9. You’ll learn to respect officials of all sports.

They have a hard job, they make mistakes, and they're human too!

Overall, being a soccer referee teaches you how to take criticism, and be a leader.

And yes, you can get paid. If you're sold, find a referee course near you!

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6 Reasons Why Marching Band is a Sport

Football is just too easy.
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Marching band. It's one of the oldest ways to celebrate something, and one of the things people most look forward to during parades. There have even been movies, TV shows, and even songs about it. Marching band is also used--in the form of pep band-- to jazz up sports games, and halftime shows; playing music the crowd knows and can get involved in. And it is also a vital part of many teens' middle school, high school, and college experience--including my own (I was in color-guard). One thing, though, that I hardly ever see discussed, that I think should be, is how band is a sport. Yes, really. I think it's even at the level of football. And here's why.


1. The definition

By definition, a sport is: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. Which is exactly what marching band is. There's even a scoring system, and after almost every parade with bands, there's an award ceremony where the bands receive there scores and find out their place.


2. The time commitment

Free time? What's free time? Just like any other sports practice, band practice is held almost every day. Once someone joins band, it's time to say goodbye to their social life. During school, whatever free time you have during the day is occupied by band. After school is occupied by band. A free Saturday becomes a myth. Sunday is the time to recover... for about five minutes before you practice the song or movements you need to improve on.


3. Especially if you're a part of something else

Marching band is already a huge commitment, but if you're part of color-guard or the drum line... the phrase 'free time' leaves your vocabulary. The practices start even earlier in the year, and go even longer. Not only are there separate judges for color-guard and drumline, but there are also separate competitions: Winterguard and Drum Corps. And both go all the way to international competitions. How many sports can you think of that have that?


4. The strength it requires

Marching itself, with the choreographed movements throughout the performance of the band, is already pretty exhausting. But, the people in it are also lugging around their instruments. Some of them, like the sousaphones (the big silver instruments above) weigh 30-35 pounds. And drums, depending on their size, come in at around 20. Even if the instrument isn't incredibly heavy, it has to be held up throughout the performance, or even the whole parade, which still requires some pretty serious arm strength. There's usually some great muscle hidden under a band uniform.


5. Including the mental strength

The first part of the mental strength band kids have comes from dealing with band practice. If the instruments or equipment won't be too damaged when practice is finished, a band director won't call it off. I've been through band practice in extreme heat, rain, snow, a hurricane... Well, just kidding. Only the first three.

The second part comes from the mental strength band kids need to get through a parade. They have to remember the entire performance choreography, their music, their cues, what they need to improve on, to check that they are still in line with those around them... and that's only one performance. But the song is played at least two or three times in a parade.


6. Field Band

Marching band is crazy, but field band is even crazier. And most bands do both. Everything mentioned above is multiplied by about 1,000. Practices can last all day, and even well into the night. And they go the whole band season. A multitude of songs are played, and the performances are even longer. Sometimes, there's even more running than marching. A good example of a field band is Ohio State (pictured above). How is that not a sport?


Marching band and field band are widely loved by those in it, and those who watch. Lots of time, effort, and even money go into each performance you see. I believe that marching band should be given the recognition it deserves and finally be called a sport.


Cover Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

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Just Because You Can Throw A Ball Does Not Mean Your Rape Is Admissible

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

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I wish rape didn't seep into every sphere of my life. But, like ink, it has.

Interpersonally, my childhood friend was gang-raped by members of the University of North Texas basketball team. As uncovered in an investigation, her circumstances were not isolated, unlike what it says in UNT's initial statement. I am proud to know my friend. I am proud to stand with her. However, I am ashamed at the situation and the commonness of her suffering among students just like me, on college campuses.

Politically, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, promotes new fortifications for students accused of sexual assault. Basically, the rules would reduce the legal classification of harassment while offering protections for those accused of wrongdoing. In my emotions, I firmly believe in the American ideal of being "innocent until proven guilty". However, even in a crime so entrenched in emotions, I must look at facts. Facts say that the falsification rate of rape is the same as most other crimes, somewhere around 5%. Therefore, I believe that DeVos' proposal would tilt investigations in favor of the committer and significantly lessen the number of victims who would have the assurance to come forward and tell his/her story. In a campus-setting, where 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted, her "solution" adds gasoline to a country-wide fire.

Educationally, Brock Turner, a swimmer at Stanford University received just six months in county jail after being found guilty of five felonies, all of which amount to him raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. In defense of the light sentence, the judge said, "the more time (Turner spends) in jail, the more severe impact" on his future, who wanted to go to the Olympics. Never mind the future of the victim.

First off, rape culture, a sociological concept in which sexual assault is pervasive and normalized, exists. And while it exists everywhere, I can only speak with any authority on the campus setting, where hook-up culture is both catalyzed and camouflaged. Here, the area that needs the most treatment is in the locker room, on the court, or on the field.

Student athletes are proportionally the greatest perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

While a tiny 3% of male students are athletes, male student athletes are responsible for almost a fifth of sexual assaults on campus. And that is just the events that are reported, (just so you know, about 3 out of 4 go unreported). However, the NCAA has no policy that lessens a student's athletic eligibility in the face of sexually violent behavioral patterns. If you have allowed these numbers to simmer in your mind, you can see that this is unacceptable.

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

Most experts make cultural and institutional arguments.

Culturally, student athletes are not seen as "normal" students – rather, they provide a service to the college. Where most students get something from the college, student athletes give to the college, and we should be so lucky to have them grace us with their presence. It is a part of the status quo: high-status students on campus are athletes, especially males who play the most popular sports, like football, basketball, or baseball. These students carry social privilege.

Obviously, athletes are not naturally ethically worse than other students. I am simply saying that absolutely no one is immune to the culture that surrounds him/her, and we have a weird culture.

On average, athletes are more likely than other students on campus to buy into the cross-cultural concept of robust masculinity, which, in extreme cases, can lead to increased sexual aggression. Don't just take it from a non-athlete like me. Even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an NBA champion and a former UCLA basketball player, declared the cultural privilege from which he benefited.

"I'm especially aware of the culture of entitlement that athletes feel... they strut around campus with the belief that they can do no wrong."

I am not going to sugarcoat the point that we all know well: football players are comparable to celebrities on campus, which has dangerous implications for a certain untouchability in mindsets.

Institutionally, colleges are as inclined to protect the perpetrator over non-athletic peers. A Senate report concluded that administrators tend to do three actions to protect their athletes, and therefore, their brand.

1. Higher-ups at the school discourage victims from reporting to police outside of the university. In this method, they let the campus police "handle it" and not report to less-biased city forces.

2. Admins downplay an assault's severity, making it less 'criminal', more unintentional and of an event to "move on from".

3. The athletic department can work with the administration and strategically delay proceedings while athletes finish their season.

If these three things are not enough as far as systemic ethical transgressions go, when athletes are found responsible for sexual assault, they may face small consequences.

Just to pull an infamous example from my home state of Texas, Baylor University continues to wrestle with how to deal with battery; I don't need to go over the sheer amount of claims that they were conscious and compliant to most allegations of assault involving their student-athletes.

So, not only is our mindset messed up, but the administration who is supposed to protect us is similarly bungled.

Obviously, athletes are not bad people, only people that are subject to their environment and protected by their talent. But crime is crime. The unnamed victim of Brock Turner said it well as she argued that being "an athlete at a university should not be an entitlement to leniency, but an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law" no matter your status.

Throwing a ball does not make someone above the rules.

Yes, I realize that my words have become trite. Scary articles, documentaries, and books about the sheer magnitude of sexual crime in college abound. But I see my seemingly-repetitive diction more as a reflection of our fallen collegiate system, rather than of myself.

With my article, I only ask that you keep fighting for victims like my childhood friend, for the classmate who sits next to you in lecture, for yourself. This institutional and social discrepancy of "athletics above all else" happens at more universities than I had the breath to mention.

Your first step is taking a searing examination at the failure of American universities to grapple successfully with campus rape in the systematic pattern of protecting student athletes more than other students. The next steps follow naturally. Take part in the activism at your school, encourage survivors, and productively confront the problem. Fear not, the policies will change with your effort.

Politics aside, we are in a time for you to continue speaking the truth, even if your voice trembles.

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