Good Sportsmanship

The lessonsof good sportsmanship in AYSO is not only the responsibility of each individual in AYSO but also in the requirements of AYSO noted in their rules and regulations. At the top of the long list is "fair play" and that requires both the players, coaches, and referees to be on the same wave-length.
It is truly unfortunate when professional soccer on television exposes too many players contesting the decision of the referee. True, the duties of the "one" referee are near impossible but the increasing amount of "dissent" by the players is setting a bad example for our youth in AYSO. To teach a player to accept the refs decision is not an overnite challenge but it does begin in the days of youth soccer. Because in the younger levels of soccer, a younger player accepts the (older) refs decisions as a matter of course, even when a ref is in a learning mode. AYSO procedures for the learning ref to be "acceptable" are a major on-going development.
"Fair play" is not only the responsibility of the player but also the coach who is in position to teach "fair play" in the early years of a developing soccer player. There will always be a player who is "more difficult" than the other players and it is the duty of the coach to take corrective action (such as limiting the difficult player to only 1/2 of the playing time). Quite often the difficult player is a more competent player and the coach hesitates to discipline. Nipping the problem in the earliest years of a player's development is high on the list of developing good sportsmanship and the resulting improvement of the player's skills. Therefore, teaching good sportsmanship by the player becomes the initial responsibility of the coach.
Referees have a singular important activity to improve good sportsmanship. Calling every intentional foul will not only result in less fouls called but also become a deterrent to the player who knows that he got away with one. Referees have a major assignment that includes not only having  the contest take place but also to arrive at a fluid pace in the game. While instructed to not call "niggling" fouls the ref is challenged to insist on good sportsmanship. Referees have a "top level" responsibility in attaining "good sportsmanship." Professional fouls and delaying tactics (i.e. standing in front of the ball during a free kick) are not only destructive to goal scoring but also irritate the team players resulting in poor sportsmanship.
The gained value of dissent with a ref's decision is non-existent. When a ref makes a call (right or wrong), the player, through dissent, will not change the results of the call but  may, in fact, have the ref establish concern over the dissenter which is not good for the game nor the dissenting player.
The AYSO responsibility of teaching "good sportsmanship" at the earlier stages of developing players is not only for the good of the game but also important to the development of the player. With dissent not tolerated, the player will concentrate on the next playing action item and thereby contribute to the well being of the team. Coaches must be involved in having  his players discontinue dissent.
Good sportsmanship in AYSO means that the coach must place sportsmanship as one of his vital coaching philosophies and the coach must fully understand that good sportsmanship will generate a more effective soccer team. Simply exhorting "good sportsmanship" to your players will fall on deaf ears and the optimum cure is corrective action. The Pioneers of AYSO  are very concerned about the "Mechanics of the Referee System" and the "Strategy within Coaching" as the  two areas that the adults are involved to result in "good sportsmanship through fair play." The improvement by coaches and referees is most easily instituted in the youngest of players simply because the early preventive medicine approach is better than surgery in the later years.
The Pioneers of AYSO in their un-affiliated status are aware that management action is necessary to take corrective action. In the Story of the Pioneers, the reffing system has been fully investigated to improve the "Mechanics of the Referere System" in order to better enforce the Laws of the Game. On the "second next page," titled "referees" you will evidence the reffing system that AYSO uses to introduce learning referees without destroying the game for the players and coaches and improving the referee system to better implement the Laws of the Game. .