Referees

The accomplishments and challenges that Pioneers of AYSO fulfilled are numerous and contained throughout the history of the PIONEERS OF AYSO. Throughout the APAYSO website one will be able to find the stories of the first 50 years via a search engine.  In addition, we will congregate examples of the most noteworthy. Refrees will receive special attention because of their importance to play on the field and the proper enforcement of the Laws of the Game.  For those of us who have reffed at all levels of soccer play, we have experienced the need for major improvements in the need to fairly enforce the laws of the game. In most cases, it is not the capabilities of the referee but the mechanics of the referee system. When a player intentionally fouls and goes unpunished the resulting increase in fouling destroys the play of the game. A game of increasing intential fouls results in a decrease in the flow of the game and less scoring, the two ingredients that AYSO seeks to arrive at "fair play."   
 
The many AYSO PHILOSOPHIES developed from our beginning are precious. In addition, many unique factors that make AYSO special are at the foundation that allowed AYSO not only to grow by innovation but also helped to achieve specific goals during the first 50 years especially resulting in "fair play" as a teaching mechanism for our youth. One major accomplishment was to increase the number of qualified referees and the training of referees especially without disadvantaging the players as the new referee took the field for the first time. Refereeing of soccer requires the full attention of every region in AYSO in order to provide the best of officiating at all levels. The philosophy of the best reffing system is at the foundation of implementing "fair play" in the sport of soccer.
 
Throughout the first 50 years of AYSO, fair play was deemed necessary to overcome the difficulties portrayed too often in the media, international news, national news, and local news concerning unsportsmanship, crowd complications, and even individual players in unsportsman acts that have resulted in an un-American initial outlook toward soccer. At the base of the difficulties, the referee was subjected to abuse not because he judged the playing incident unfairly but because quite often the referee did not have the proper view of the incident. One ref on a large area field and 22 players constantly running made it near impossible for the game to be played without fouls unseen by one ref and two linesmen. The one ref system despite its shortcomings has become solidly embedded in the minds of the soccer traditionalists. Therein, the opposition.  As important, if not more important, the game of soccer has become primarily a defensive game resulting in too many 0-0 games or even 1-0 games.  Players found that defensive tactics when destructive advantaged their defensive play. The beauty and skill in scoring goals was lost in the growth of defensive advantages. 
 
The W-formation of five forwards of old have now become two forwards and often but one forward. Overtime and penalty kicks in major knockout tournaments have become a new undesired tradition. Coaches have been cornered to go defensive to protect their jobs at the higher levels of soccer and the defensive tactics have not only filtered down but have also taken a priority. When an American fan in his first venture to a soccer game does not understand the intricacies of soccer play and no goals are scored, the potential fan is turned off. 
 
Fortunately, youth soccer involves parents who become knowledgeable during the years that their offspring grows with the joy of playing the sport. Soon the parents become fans with some further interest in the sport therein and with the addition of youth becoming fans, the stadiums are being filled. After 50 years of growing players and fans, the future of soccer in America is at hand. Now, a quality of play enhanced by quality referees and an improved referee system of mechanics (location of referee to the action of play) became a challenge for the new enthusiasts of Americans, players and fans. The need for experimentation was the next logical movement.   
 
There are many regional stories on succesfully introducing a person into officiating youth soccer games.  There are many stories were AYSO referees made their start into refereeing soccer and then advanced to the high school, college, and professional levels. In the history of soccer, the decisions of the referee are highly criticized; quite often because some of the knowledgeable fans have a better view.   At every level, refereeing is a challenge that few undertake. AYSO referees had the advantage of officiating the youngest of players where most "so-called" fouls were accidental and making that judgement led to improving fair play without the calling of "niggling" fouls but calling every intentional, deliberate foul to allow the best of fluidity and the resulting higher scores in the game of soccer. As our youngsters grew into the higher AYSO divisions, plus high school, and college play, the game of soccer became more complex and with intentional tactical fouls in the team strategy; fouls became a greater part of the game. In my experience of officiating over 1,000 soccer games at all levels, the major challenge was not the judgement of "fair or foul" but in the one ref system, the ability to be positioned to see every foul adeqately to apply the proper judgement, a change in reffing mechanics was deemed necessary. 
 
The history of soccer at all levels requires that the referee be the best at each level. From youth to the World Cup, soccer reffing is an art, an art of understanding the players and their game at each level. When a game at the higher level has multiple television cameras, the viewing public will witness, and especially at the highest levels, a disparity in accordance with the varied abilities of the referee and too often due to the reffing mechanics. The image of soccer and the quality of fair play is marked poorly too many times by the viewer who watches the close-up replay. It is usually not the fault of the referee but instead the reffing mechanics of the one ref system to accomplish his duties fairly. This built-in system of unseen fouls inherent in one ref soccer requires special attention.  
 
As an AYSO coach, I witnessed my under-10 aged team having a penalty kick called against us in a most important game while the ref was running from the far corner to the mid circle and calling the incident in the distant penalty area while 50 yards away and blocked out by the line of players congregated between the ref and the incident. This incorrect call was not well received by the young players, especially the youngster who conducterd a proper tackle as the ball went to the touch line and two steps later the opponent went to ground. The inability to have a "proper view" of the incident was not the fault of the referee but instead the "poor soccer mechanics" in refereeing. Again, "Reffing Mechanics" refers to the location of the referee to the location of every player and the ball on the field of play. It was this incident and the opportunity years later to rectify the "mechanics" to not only improve the "fair play" of the game of soccer but also to provide a refereeing system that would encourage and train more volunteers, especially in AYSO, and to have an oversupply of refrees. The opportunity to increase the fluidity of the games, more goals scored, and especially achieving "fair play" results, the improvement of soccer officiating was achieved by experienced referees who began officiating early in AYSO and dared to experiment to improve the reffing mechanics.         
 
"The Three Refs On the Field (TROF)," initially provides the potential referee parent with an oppoprtunity to gain valuable reffing experience and, most importantly, encouraged additional parents to volunteer to ref without their apprehension of destroying the game as they initially gathered their experience. For many parents who wanted to participate in their offspring's sport but had limited time because of their vocation, reffing required appearances primarily at game-time as opposed to coaching which required many days each week to fully provide the service of coaching. Reffing is complex and too many games have outcomes determined by the ability of one ref to cover a large territory. Quite often, the refs of youth games have sedentary jobs and reffing five games in one day on the weekend was simply unfair to the players. The reffing of a soccer game demanded major improvements as AYSO grew.  A quantity of quality referees was a prime need. While many adults would volunteer to ref, the embarrassments during the learning experience on the field deterred not only those who did volunteer but especially, the players, coaches, and fans who witnessed the inadequate stages of a ref----in process. A solution was required and during the WATTS SUMMER GAMES, the opportunity to try a new system of reffing mechanics was implemented.  During the Watts Games, without a major incident and improved scoring,  it was proven that the major problem of reffing is not the referee himself but the reffing mechanics that limits his abilities. Again, reffing mechanics is basically the location of the ref with respect to the action. The one-ref system is adequate when the players play with the best of competitive attitudes but even that presents a serious problem too often.    
 
The benefits of TROF at the AYSO youth level are enormous in both obtaining and training new refs and also the implementation of "fair play" without destroying the game as volunteers are encouraged/learning to ref. In the TROF system, the learning ref is usually located in the center and allowed to ref within his increasing capabilities. The key is the experienced refs alongside that guide him resulting in fair play. In the TROF system, each ref is equal with each ref being guided (as opinions, confirming and/or non-confirming but only as guidelines) by pre-arranged unique signals from fellow refs. Paul Harris, Larry Harris, and Joe Bonchonsky, each with over 1,000 games of reffing in the one-ref, and two-ref system at youth to reffing professional games in the TROF SYSTEM (for FIFA ref Ken Aston's evaluation) were truly convinced by the results of the TROF system. 
      
'The TROF system of reffing is basically an improved system of reffing mechanics, that is, the location of the referees with respect to the conduct of the game. In the attachment to this page, AP.AYSO TROF, the illustrations and text delineates the TROF system and is worthy of your study and usage. The "tradition" of one ref is a major obstruction by avoiding experimentation. The reffing mechanics in the one ref system in making decisions is questioned too often. When three refs, experienced in the one ref system are on the field of play, their judgements normally implemented in the one ref system, are most often more acceptable by the avoidance of previously unseen fouls resulting in the lack of fair play. The TROF reffing mechanics provides the "one ref who calls the incident" to be supported (confirming signals) by another ref at the time of vital importance. A double whistle procedure of resolution is pre-game signal-oriented to establish correct decision-making. Most importantly, today, "the modern-day television reviewed re-plays indicate that the one ref system is not adequate for the advances in coaching and playing." In our experience during the implementation of the TROF system, the fluidity of the game improved and the actual scores increased, beyond our expectations. As noted in the Pioneers of AYSO, the success of our growth is measured by our willingness to innovate while improving the play of the game that has captured the imagination of our youth and the levels they seek.
 
The benefits of the TROF ref system are unlimited; for example, the ability for refs to continue additional years of reffing with less physical challenges allows the most experienced ref to be available for more years.
 
In downloading the attached file titled "TROF" please allow adequate time for the downloading procees to attain clarity.
  
The Pioneers of AYSO website, APAYSO, is presently in its infancy but the many stories must be told to allow each region to benefit by the reffing accomplishments in all regions and thereby accentuate the progress en toto. Please participate by writing your story, submitting it through the regional historian to be inputed and made available to EVERYONE. Read thoroughly the attached document to gather the experience of Pioneers of AYSO referees.   
 
The AYSO philosophy of "good sportsmanship" is made more practical when the refs are highly trained, well experienced, and reffing in the optimum system of reffing mechanics.       
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Joseph Bonchonsky,
Jun 18, 2012, 10:39 AM
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