Second, this is not a don't-you-dare-touch-my-kid rant: My kid was sitting on the bench for most of the game, which is where he belongs because most of this team's players are much better than he is.
This is a what-the-hell? rant, as in What kind of high school soccer coach trains his players to behave like linebackers instead of teaching them to pass and dribble? What kind of high school soccer refs stand by and watch this behavior escalate throughout the first half, without issuing yellow cards (formal warnings for unsporting behavior)? What kind of high school soccer player, in the second half, puts down his shoulder and runs straight at an opponent, hitting him so hard that he is instantly knocked unconscious, has convulsions, and is bleeding from the mouth? What kind of high school soccer ref then ambles over and gives the attacker a yellow card . . . not a red card, which, according to the rules of the game, is what he should have issued the player for a dangerous tackle and excessive violence on the field? Worst of all, what kind of parents start screaming at the ref from the stands, protesting that the attacker should have received no penalty at all, while the injured player is lying on the field looking like he is DEAD?
In Maine, many of the smaller schools do not have football programs, which means that the largest male athletes often end up playing soccer. On the whole, beefy males rely on shoulder power, not foot speed, so even at the best of times they are dangerous in a game populated by light-boned sprinters who aren't wearing pads or helmets. Thus, the referees should be scrupulous in enforcing body-contact penalties. If the refs don't penalize such actions, coaches are going to continue to allow their players to do what comes easiest, and opponents are going to continue to get seriously injured. Already this season, my son's team has lost another starter, whose leg was badly broken during a tournament by a defenseman who had been dangerously slide-tackling in every game he had played that day. The refs did not even issue that player a yellow card. Now the team has lost another member to what, at the very least, is an extremely serious concussion and may, for all I know, involve neck or back damage.
I am excited that my son made the varsity team, and I don't care that he isn't a starter. I love watching the players' crisp passes, their quick footwork. I love the way they think together and react as a team. I love the way the kids on the bench cheer them on. I don't love watching them hurt other people, and I am angry and appalled at the communal bullying I witnessed last night.