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You might not think so, but the individuals who arbitrate the rules or laws of soccer on a regular basis and the individuals who either for recreation or a livelihood attempt to catch fish have many similar qualities. Believe it or not, there are many similar characteristics between soccer officials and those who fish.

Patience.

When fishing, individuals need a great amount of patience, especially recreational fishermen. Often a whole day is spent casting out lines in hope of catching just one fish. More often than not, the day ends with the fish stories of the one that got away.

Soccer officials must exhibit patience in several different ways. The first is advancing to the next level. All officials have an ego and want to be at the highest level as soon as possible. Those that work hard and exhibit patience have a greater opportunity to reach the levels they seek. Officials who do not have patience and attempt to move too quickly tend to create situations for those in charge of organizations to resent the officials’ actions and therefore diminish the opportunities to move upward. Also, officials who advance too rapidly may not be ready for the next level and do not perform at their potential and lose out on future opportunities.

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Officials possess the patience to work with their mentors, listen to advice and accept all assignments, no matter what the level. They perform at the 100 percent level on every game so that their actions will be always viewed as quality work. Almost without exception, this approach allows the officials to move to the next level and be readily recognized as those individuals considered for future quality assignments.

Perseverance.

Fishermen must persevere through a variety of situations. They must endure the elements when out to sea. When there are no fish to be caught, they must stick with it until they find a location and begin to harvest fish. They must stay determined and maintain a positive attitude no matter the circumstances.

Like fishermen, officials work in the elements: Cold, rain, wind, sleet and mud. Games played in harsh conditions require officials to maintain their level of excellence in spite of the elements. Running in mud puts a great amount of strain on the leg muscles. Often officials will begin to experience fatigue but must persevere through it and continue to strive to be in the best position possible throughout the entire game.

When officials have a game that does not go as well as expected, they must “stick with it,” learn from their mistakes and move forward to the next game. Also, if a game is exceptionally difficult, the officials must stick with their convictions and work even harder to keep control and finish the game without incident.

Officials must be determined to be the best at all times. This includes training both before and during the officiating seasons. It is easy to become complacent and not train on a regular basis. Family time, work and other important factors can impact training schedules. Officials must persevere and continue their training regimen no matter the circumstances. This approach ensures the officials are physically ready to work the level of games they are assigned.

Courage.

Fishermen must exhibit a great amount of courage when they go out to sea. They must brave the extreme elements while working on a very dangerous deck. Equipment is moving, the boat is moving and the deck is slippery from the waves splashing. They focus on the task at hand and ignore all the distractions around them. They cannot have any fear.

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During every game officiated, soccer officials must also exhibit a great amount of courage. They must be brave enough to make the crucial call at a critical moment without fear or hesitation. Officials cannot be distracted or intimidated by the fans, players or bench personnel at any time. They must stay focused on the game and be ready for any situation.

Knowledge.

All fishermen must be knowledgeable about many facets of the industry and the sea. They must know every regulation regarding minimum and maximum sizes of fish, and the overall amount of fish that can be caught. They must also be knowledgeable of how the tides and winds impact the navigation of the boats and when is the best time to be on the water. They need to know what equipment is needed and how to use it properly for the best possible result. Fishermen also need to know something about the habits of the fish and the bait that will be the most effective. This is learned through experience and research.

Fishermen gain knowledge by reading journals, attending meetings about fishing, and talking to more experienced fishermen.

A thorough and in-depth knowledge of the Laws of the Game (LOTG) or the rulebook that is governing the game is critical to the success of officials. A misinterpretation of a rule could lead to a different outcome in the game or a protest being filed. Officials must have knowledge of the intricacies of every rule and be ready to make the correct interpretation on the most unique situations. Officials must know what equipment to use during the game. Is it time for a strong whistle to set the tone? Was that offense worthy of a caution or ejection? Does the assistant referee need to communicate in some way to the referee? The officials’ knowledge comes into play with the answers to the aforementioned questions.

Officials gain experience with each game and are better equipped to deal with players and situations that develop during future games. In addition, officials should take the time to research the teams that are involved in the game so they have advanced knowledge of what to expect.

Officials gain additional knowledge by reading articles in various publications, watching video and attending clinics. Also, officials seek out more experienced individuals to serve as mentors and learn more about the game from their knowledge.

Enjoyment.

Fishermen enjoy the opportunity to be out on the water or casting their lines from the shore. They enjoy the experience of catching “the big one” and being able to share the result with others. They also enjoy the fact that they are successful at what they do and have a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. As time passes, fishermen enjoy the times talking about their past successes and sharing stories about their time at sea or fishing a particular special spot.

The better soccer officials enjoy the games they officiate. They enjoy being tested by the players and bench personnel and becoming even stronger from these actions. They enjoy the fellowship of other officials and the time they share traveling to games, in the locker room or at clinics or meetings. All officials enjoy the experience of being assigned the “big one” and being allowed to exhibit their skills at the highest level. They also enjoy the great sense of accomplishment at the end of a hard-fought game that was well-controlled.

It is time for the reader to be the judge. Are soccer officials like fishermen?

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Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.

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