Sport Safety, Sportsmanship

Does a HS Coach the Right to Stop a Game?

I saw a short write-up a week ago in the Jersey Journal a week ago in which a HS varsity boys soccer match between Hudson Catholic and Hoboken was stopped with the score tied 1-1 with 17 minutes to go because one of the coaches thought the officiating was poor, i.e. he felt that the tone of the game had become physically dangerous for both teams.

So the coach took his team off the field, and the game came to an abrupt end.

A week later, there’s still no word as to whether the coach would either be disciplined by the New Jersey State Athletic Interscholastic Association for his actions…or saluted for being proactive in trying to prevent serious injury to his players.

On my show this AM, it seemed that the callers were split down the middle on this debate. Some felt that this coach was setting a dangerous precedent with his actions, and that he needed to reprimanded, even suspended. Others felt that the coach should be applauded for not waiting for the inevitable to take (e.g. someone getting hurt), and that the game should simply be suspended and picked up at a later date (with presumably different refs working the game).

Almost all the callers agreed that it’s increasingly difficult to get good refs for HS soccer matches, and that even though they are all certified and trained, it’s just hard to maintain a certain level of quality. That being said, clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed so that the coaches and referee’s can all work in tandem to make sure these conflicts don’t happen again.

As I said on the show, it sure would make a lot of sense for a coach to communicate his or her concerns with the officials either during a time-out or perhaps during half-time. The problem is, when you arbitrarily take your team off the field, that kind of ultimate action puts the coach – and the officials – in a very awkward spot.

No one wants to see a game be marred with injuries or penalties. I just wish there was some sort of policy put into place that can prevent these kinds of situations from happening in the future.

  • Joe Ratto

    I just learned about this being discussed on WFAN Rick Wolff’s show, I’m the soccer coach for Hoboken High school, the story that was written by the Jersey Journal the day after the game was inaccurate, the news reporter only interviewed the opposing coach and never approched me after the game. After I read the morning paper I did contact him and he retracted his story. I never took the kids off the field, the oppossing coach walked over to me while the game was being played and told me that he was taking his kids off the field. My response to him was “Alex you do whatever you need to do”. Apparently there was a dispute between the opposing coach and the ref before my team arrived at the field by bus. The dispute was about the condition of the field which the ref declared has playable. If you want the rest of him contact me.

  • Joe Ratto

    By the way we were awarded the win via forfeit by the NJSIAA.

    • Jon Levinson

      Rick, I was the one who called you after pulling off the Tappan Zee. I am listening this morning and would like to comment on the additional information you presented about the Hoboken-Hudson Catholic game. In NJ, if the goals are not anchored, the officials are required to NOT PLAY until the goals are secured. If that means that the game is not played, then it is not played. Additionally, if either coach had any reservations about the conditions not being playable, they could have postponed the game before it started. NFHS rules do not allow coaches to protest field conditions ONCE THE GAME IS STARTED.

      I hope this is helpful.