In Search of The Perfect Game

By Rodney Kenney, NISOA National Clinician, Florida

Looking for the perfectly refereed game is akin to looking for the Holy Grail, you can devote your whole life trying to achieve it, but you will end in failure. We all have every intention of refereeing a perfect game every time we walk on the field. What happens between being assigned and the end of the game that interferes with those intentions?

Any time you have 22 humans playing a dynamic game like soccer, not one will respond or play the same. Also, the environment plays a part in how the game is played each time.

We must first ask ourselves what is a perfect game? One with no goals scored, a tie, or a one-goal differential? Is it a match where no fouls are committed, no cautions or send-offs, you see and deal properly with all the fouls, or everyone congratulates you after the game?

Could it be “perfect in whose eyes?” What may be a perfect game for one team may be a disaster to another. What may have felt good to you may have looked out of control to others.

Perfectionists do not last long as soccer referees; they tend to burn out quickly. How can you achieve perfection when players, coaches, your assistants and the environment all contribute to the success or failure of the game?

There is a possibility of a minimum of 30 different situations, that can happen every second of every game. Multiply that by 90 minutes and that’s a staggering 162,000 possible situations a game, and some of them could be happening simultaneously. To be perfect, one would have to see and deal with each situation, making the correct call every time.

We may never reach perfection, but there are ways to move in that direction. You must be properly trained, be at the right fitness level, possess the skills required to communicate with and manage the players. You must look and act professionally at all times, and you must have a positive attitude. If you did your best to meet all those elements then you have come as close to perfection as a human can, and you will be a successful referee even if you are not perfect.