NCAA Soccer Rules and College Soccer Environment

by John Puglisi, NISOA Past - President, NISOA National clinician and NISOA local assessor.

One of the keen differences between the Laws of the Game and the NCAA Soccer Rules is the NCAA’s position of zero tolerance for profane and obscene language. “Using profane language in an incidental manner” is a mandatory caution. Abusive, threatening, hostile or obscene language is an ejection offense. As a clinician, every year I discuss this important rules difference and make it a point that referees correctly and courageously enforce the NCAA Soccer Rules in this area.

I want to share a recent email that was sent to me.

Good Morning,

I attended the spring scrimmage in [redacted] this weekend.  I was there with my three kids ages 8, 6 and 4.  We  were there with a couple other families with young children.  I have always been a [redacted] fan, but lived in [redacted] for four years after graduating college….

I am emailing to let you know there were a few players using language that was unsuitable for the young ears that could hear the action on the field.  The ones that were the loudest and most numerous played for [redacted].  There was one player in particular that used the F word very regularly and loudly during the game.  I know the college game is different and cultures may be different and place different values on the use of profanity, but I was disappointed at the lack of respect for the game and the families present.  There are clear rules regarding language and no one seemed to care that the player was yelling the F word so all in the stadium could hear.  The official, to my knowledge, didn’t even speak to the player about his language.  The coach, to my knowledge, didn’t even address the language with his player.

I love the game of soccer and enjoy taking my kids to watch the college game, but if the family atmosphere can’t be maintained or at least follow the rules and guidelines provided by the NCAA, I will not be able to attend with my kids.

Thank you for your time and Best of luck the rest of the spring season.

While I removed non-essential details, I can say that the two universities involved here are premier, top level programs. Assignments at these universities are desirable and prestigious.

Please use this opportunity to review Rule 12 and think about how you would handle this situation if you were the referee on this match. Would you have the courage to enforce the NCAA Soccer Rules?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 at 12:07 pm and is filed under Instruction with keyword(s) . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Comments so far

  1. Michael Moskowitz says:

    The question John proposes in this incident where the “NCAA’s position of zero tolerance for profane and obscene language is not enforced” is valid and appropriate. As a former educator it was always my belief that each of the players on the field are students first and athletes second. Therefore, the game is an extension of the classroom where each of the participants are being tested for what they have learned in the classroom and are being tested in the practical use of their skills. It is important to remember that the use of profane and obscene language in the classroom is not acceptable;no matter what level of education or age of the student.

    I prefer to look at the solution to the problem posed in a different manner. Let the players know what is expected of them beforehand. When I officiated I would advise the team captains prior to the coin toss that there are three (3) situations that will be strictly enforced during the game:
    1. Players interfering with the goalkeeper will be issued a card,
    2. Players not providing 10 yards and/or interfering with a free kick will be issued a card and
    3. The use of profane and obscene language will not be tolerated and will result in a card being issued.

    Furthermore, I instructed the team captains that they are responsible for advising their teammates that these principles would be strictly enforced and, in the event that my instructions were not followed, play would be stopped and a card would be issued.

    Yes, there were instances where profane and obscene language was heard and was dealt with swiftly. But, I was often surprised by the reaction of the players. Many players apologized for their use of language and at other times the captain chastised the offender for not following his/her instructions. I hope those who read my response will think carefully about their role in the education of these students and the impact they as officials have on the game. Remember, the coaches who make the rules want these rules enforced.

    • John Puglisi says:

      Mike…thank you as always for your perspective.

      One of the changes I’ve seen over the years is the population of our members who are educators has diminished. As many matches are now played at night and the demand for “full time” soccer referees has increased, referees from all occupations are more actively involved with college soccer. While I believe this evolution has been for the best, the responsibility of our clinicians to reinforce the concept that Mike superbly articulated about the college game being an extension of the classroom has never been more important. Educators bring this perspective of college soccer almost naturally but for those of us who are not educators, we need to understand and consistently apply this concept. Thank you for focusing on that, Mike.