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Advice to referees -- and managers?

Posted Oct 21 2008 12:51am
Speaking of sports, let's now turn away from cheese racing and back to the beautiful game, where I want to present a different twist on the girls soccer topic.

Several years ago, my friend and fellow referee Grant led me to the following email, written by Dr. Cindy Moore at the University of Washington. She has graciously allowed me to reprint it here. Sure, it is about soccer, but I would ask you to consider any ramifications for management of teams in an organization.

Here's Grant's introduction from January 2003:

What follows is a long but very interesting email describing the results of a survey done by Cindy Moore describing how women vs. men respond to game situations, mainly soccer. VERY interesting read, most of it rings true. There are lots of things that I have observed over the years, but not really been able to process as clearly as Dr. Moore.

Not all human behavior falls into neat columns and works every time for everybody. I polled a statistically large number of males and females as coaches, players, and officials (female officials not so large a number here) on a survey that I entitled "Perceptions of the Female Game" a few years ago for my Ph.D. thesis. I hold various psychology/anthropology degrees and work at a large university. I researched many psych/educational studies, plus interviews, survey, and observed games both live/taped to see if I could draw comparisons between the two genders in a soccer game from a behavior statistical difference point of view.

(Males/female respondents were for the most part, white, and recreational/district older players or youth players at all competitive levels. Officials whom responded were a from very diverse population both age/regionally/experience level.)

Some points to ponder: Females will delay their retaliation for a number of reasons:

1) They are socially oriented. Most retaliation will NOT be done by the one involved in the cheap shot but rather by a team-mate who will take out the offending player. Why? Females are socially, not individually, organized as males usually are. Having a team-mate retaliate for you strengthens the bond of the team/group. When you commit a cheap foul against one, it is against all.

But ALWAYS be aware of the social clique on any female team you officiate. You should be able to identify the main clique, who is on the "outs", who is new. You may have a player always in the open -- never will anybody pass her the ball -- it won't be happening because more than likely on a female team they haven't bonded (trust) or she has offended somebody and the possible win won't override the social organization of the group. Winning isn't the first priority of the team (lot of variables here depending on age, etc) but the socialization, bonding of the team is always an overriding factor on any female team. The best player, if she has does something to offend a higher female in the group, won't see the ball passed her way.

2) Females choose their time for retaliation because they do not want to be caught doing so for the most part. If they can execute the perfect "payback" without getting caught, so much the better. They do not like public criticism. (Anybody ever yelled at their wife/partner in public or tried to correct them publicly in some manner?) School studies show that teachers correct and call upon males at a much much higher percentage rate than females. From a very early age males are used to speaking out, being corrected, trying for any attention either positive or negative interaction. Males will raise their hand to respond for the interaction/attention -- never mind the "right" answer -- to be respected as intelligent. Females usually only raise their hands when they are very positive about being correct, looking good in front of their peers and the authority figure-teacher.

As a referee: what does this mean?

1) Identify the social leaders of the team.

2) Try quiet words to the player and make them specific words. Females key off of specific feedback. "Number 11, hands off her shirt," "Watch the hip check," etc. Females process intrinsic information; males are extrinsic. You can yell across the field to the males to knock it off, and they will grin and get the picture. If you do that with a female, she will elaborately look around, like whom is he addressing, it can't me, or begin a discussion of what are you talking about -- "What am I doing?" -- and then engage you all game long in what did you call, why, what did you see, that wasn't right, it was this, etc. Females have a very fine sense of justice and what is "fair." Be consistent and apply laws/calls/fouls consistently throughout the game. Or be prepared to hear/discuss your games and perceived unfairness as you call 34 to 1 foul ratio, catch that hip check but not this one -- "Are you blind?"

3) Next step in player management is to talk just a bit louder to include her immediate peer group of teammates.

4) Use the team leader (not always the captain -- watch for the social structure) or her best friend on the team -- notice who helps her up -- her friend will cross the field to help her up or check her well-being. (Guys it will be the nearest one handy on their way for positions.) Make your discipline as quiet as possible as long as the person allows it to happen this way. Once you have made it public, forget about putting that player into your pocket anytime soon in the near future. Once a problem now, always a problem. She won't let it go until she has spent some deep processing time on it. Do not waste any more effort on recapturing friendly relations -- stay professional and just know no warm and fuzzy feelings are likely.

Ever fight with a girlfriend, wife, partner? Where do most of you resolve these issues? Females pick their battleground carefully. Most of these "discussions" will take place in one of three places: 1) bedroom; 2) car; 3) kitchen -- when territory has been declared and likely interruption free. Females like a captive audience with their undivided attention. In the above areas, most males will not easily escape the discussion, and the females will pick the time of discussion to have the fewest interruptions.

There are chemical reactions in the fear/flight response (higher blood pressure, increased respiratory, acute sensory perceptions, etc). To decrease these reactions, males require one of two things -- action or time. So if you see a potential harmful retaliation coming, put on the speed and get there ASAP and provide a distraction to buy some time to let things chill out. Know either you are going to be effective in first few seconds or you will have lost it, but the results will be quickly known and usually the equalizer will be done within 10-15 minutes.

Females require one of two things -- time or verbalization! Ever had a female partner talk, go over and over and over the same upsetting scenario time/again? Recognize this increases coping ability, decreases the response syndrome. Expect words to be flying or voice used in some mannerism in a tense situation -- the females will talk, mutter, talk, mutter, talk to others all game long about the situation and into the locker room afterwards. This forms the oral history and why 10 years later two females will remember, recognize, and have a score to settle up. In a female game, OFTEN the game you think you see before you will have hidden agendas. Females will carry the baggage looking for exactly the right moment to execute retaliation so pay-back won't be forgotten, maximize effect and allow them to avoid go-to-jail card. I have had lots of stories about females games -- you know -- not a darn thing was happening, play was going well, when strike, bam, boom, etc. Ref didn't see it coming . . . and couldn't from the play on the field before him. What he missed was the female body language signs of impending war -- whispers on the wind, cold shoulders, stiffening body movements passing the enemy and the 'look'.

With males, in contrast, retaliation is upfront, personal and usually involves "in your face" immediately or within next 10-15 minutes retaliation. More than likely, once given, the score is evened, payback given, accepted, then the game can proceed. They may even pat each other on the butt, arm, give a thumbs or help each other up, later in the game. Watch for the pairing.

Males when tense usually clench jaw, make fists, scowl, lengthen stride, puff up and they do NOT communicate well. They STOP talking and are poised for action. They may storm into a tense situation and that intimidates females players to where they feel personally threatened. So make a point when you are upset in the female game to communicate verbally (quietly, directly, and specific language to the player) and watch your body language -- especially the fists as you run, jaws clenched, etc. Learn to smile wide, and it doesn't hurt to indulge in some light social chitchat. Females seem to appreciate more also that a referee checks when they are injured and how they are doing after a hard foul or tackle.

An interesting side note to my survey that I'd like to share. Female players are very perceptive about male officials. They noted smell (!), hair combed, uniform professionalism. Body language drew a huge response when asked their perceptions of male officials. I was expecting mechanics, whistle, etc, but what I received was very critical body/dress/socialization skills/interaction comments!

Obviously I have a lot more material and again, please, not all of it will apply across the board to every male/female. These are statistical averages and not all the time does it happen this way. Also, the comparisons do not necessarily hold true anymore in the competitive upper division female games. Times are changing, and both female and males are drawing closer in some types of behavior. For example, the red and yellow card count here has led me to think that females are becoming more outspoken about language, and certain kinds of violent conduct are on an increase in the female game.
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