Monday, October 05, 2009

An Interesting Question

If you are a soccer referee, a website that you should add to your list of reading material is Ask A Soccer Referee, a website that answers questions posed by referees all over the country about the laws of the game, game administration and even "inventive Commentators" or others. The Refereeing staff at U.S. Soccer Federation answers the questions.

The way the questions and answers are presented, you can get a great test of actual game incidents or real life questions, and if you are a referee you can test your knowledge. But sometimes, you get some outlandish questions like this one:
My 15 year old son has been a soccer referee for many years. He hasn’t noticed this before, but last night came home after reffing two games and noticed his ears felt blocked and his hearing was fuzzy. He is still experiencing ear discomfort, and is supposed to ref many games at a tournament this weekend.

I am very concerned that he sustained some noise induced ear damage. As a parent I’ve been concerned for years with the loud whistle blowing at all games/sports. A ref, however is exposed to these loud whistle blasts continuously and it is closer to his ears than all the players!

He does not want to wear earplugs as he says none of the other referees do. He also says it will interfere with his reffing, and his ability to hear properly. I’m much more concerned that this part-time job could cause permanent hearing damage/loss.

My question is: what kind of ear protection do referees who are concerned about noise induced damage from whistles use? I hope I don’t hear that the majority of referees don’t wear ear protection. It is definitely something all referees should be aware of and concerned with.
Now the staff at USSF noted that in their decades of experience they have never heard of this problem, so I also took it with a grain of salt.

However, my second reaction was my goodness, this person, who is clearly a hypochondriac in disguise, is over-thinking the problem. Maybe the boy has had the issue for a few days and is only now telling mom. Maybe it is something different completely unrelated to soccer. Maybe the boy has an ear infection. But what ever the reasons, this is not a soccer problem, but a health problem.

I was also thinking. In a 90 minute game, one in which I am blowing the whistle a lot, I can't imagine I blow the whistle for more than three or four seconds at a time. Over the course of a match, maybe I would get two full minutes of blowing the whistle. I am not sure how damaging that would be. I admit, even at age 40, I sometimes listen to Metallica or Shinedown with the volume a little high on my iPod.

So really, parents of young referees. Not everything is related to refereeing.

No comments: