Reputations: Easy to Gain, Difficult to Change


“Well, your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation.
Aww, she never cared for me,
But did she ever say a prayer for me?

— Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young”

If Virginia’s mom (Virginia is the main protagonist in Billy Joel’s song) was talking about Virginia’s soccer reputation, she would have been wrong. Whether it is Virginia’s soccer reputation or yours, only you are responsible for the reputation you have earned on the field. No one else is responsible; and certainly not the young man whose words are being sung.

The same is true for coaches, teams, parents, fans, and leagues. Reputations are earned. They also precede you. Once a reputation has been established, it is difficult to change.

One area where reputations play a part, rightfully or not, is with referees. When I referee, I try to go into a game with as clear and unbiased a mind as possible. But I also like to go into each game prepared. I’ll ask fellow referees for background information on the two teams and particular players. I’ll try to find out the scores of the previous games played between the two teams. I’ll access the play and the behavior of the players before the game.

In addition, the more I referee, the more personal information I have gathered and use for upcoming games. I know who the better players are and which players are physical and sometimes overly-physical. I know whether a coach is going to question all my calls and I know if the parents and fans are knowledgeable or not. I try not to let these reputations affect my calls, but I am only human.

The beginning of a new season is a great time to work on one’s reputation. With each new season, there is usually enough turnover and enough time has lapsed, making it possible for everyone to start with a relatively clean slate. So, Virginia, if you feel like you or your soccer team has an unwarranted or unjust reputation, now is the perfect time to change it.

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