I remember the days when my wife and I would go to multiple soccer games a week with our son. I remember all the parents rooting for their kids. And I remember the few parents who would occasionally exhibit less-than-desirable behaviors with which the referees would then have to deal.
Referees have an amazingly challenging job. Think about it; they must maintain control of a very dynamic situation (i.e., a rapidly changing sporting event during which human emotions are all over the board), and do this in front of our children and every other spectator. They thus have the extra responsibility of exhibiting, for our children and everyone else, how to best resolve disputes and conflicts.
See the brief video below in which a referee clearly was losing her cool. It’s instructive, in how that situation could have evolved far worse than it did.
See this great Vistelar blog post by Pete Jaskulski, Verbal Defense & Influence speaker, trainer, and consultant. He references the article, Manage Conflict: Defuse Don’t Detonate, in Referee Magazine. Pete is an expert in explaining how Verbal Defense & Influence training helps to manage conflict before, during, and after sporting events.
Let’s hope that more people charged with officiating sporting events receive good training in managing conflict. They have a challenging job, and their lives will be more stress-free to the degree that they receive quality training such as VDI. With good training, having pre-planned, practiced responses to conflict situations, referee retention rates will improve (we thus get to keep well-trained, seasoned refs), and overall relationships between sporting officials, parents, spectators, and players will improve.
This is yet another way by which well-trained conflict management skills can benefit an entire community.