Sunday, April 29, 2007

Expat Teacher as a professional soccer referee

I was out reffing two soccer games today and I had one of those "yeah, I'm a professional" moments. Our first game involved a team in white jerseys versus a team in yellow. Refs usually wear yellow jerseys. However, to avoid confusion, we had to change. I got a black ref jersey from my mother-in-law for my birthday, so I pulled it out. The two other refs also pulled out their black jerseys. Having a second jersey was a sign that "yeah, I'm a professional."

I don't usually take my games very seriously. I do my best, but the league is friendly, recreation league. No one's livelihood is at stake if I flub a call. Yet, by the end of the season, I may have earned enough to subsidize my Italy addiction. That's not bad.

In that first game of the day, the two teams got super competitive and had all kinds of complaints about the reffing. Suddenly I got very tight with my two fellow refs and supported them in all their calls. I really bore down and made sure that all my calls were spot on and I could deal with complaints. I was able to fend off the complaints better than the center ref, who because all responsibility rests on him, bore the brunt of the moans and bitching.

After the game, all three of us debriefed the game and talked about what went right and what didn't. Just like a professional team would do in the MLS or over in Europe.

Yet, I still don't think of myself as a professional soccer referee. I'm a professional teacher. Mrs. Expat Teacher is a professional copy-editor and writer. My friends are professional politicians, consultants, clergy, etc.

What exactly makes them professionals? What is a professional? Should I consider myself a professional referee?