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South Valley Journal

UHSAA places boys soccer on probation

Jul 01, 2022 11:36AM ● By Greg James

By Greg James | [email protected]

In a stand against poor sportsmanship, the Utah High School Activities Association has placed boys soccer on probation. Coaches have questioned if their decision was accurate and if it will change.

“The Executive Committee voted to place the sport of boys soccer on probation due to the rise in ejections related to unsportsmanlike conduct,” the UHSAA said in a statement. “UHSAA programs will now have 14 allowable contests, down from 16.”

The sport will be on probation for the next three years. The committee will conduct annual reviews to assess the sport’s progress.

“I am really torn on this issue,” Hunter High School boys head coach Brett Solberg said. “UHSAA claims that in the past year 50% of all ejections were in boys soccer. I feel that is not a fair comparison. In soccer, you can get a red card for a handball or a foul as the last defender. If you foul out in basketball it is not considered an ejection.”

In soccer, a red card forces the player or coach to be removed from the contest and the team’s following match. Red cards can be assessed for several reasons: two yellow cards are an automatic red card, a handball, a foul as the last defender before the goalkeeper, leaving the field of play without authorization, and poor sportsmanship.

“Not a single coach or administrator I have talked to knew anything about this being considered,” Copper Hills head coach Sean Terry said. “Unfortunately, when you are dealing with high school boys in a competitive sports setting, you will have isolated instances of poor sportsmanship.”

According to Terry referees have been instructed to take a no-tolerance approach to bad language on the field.

“I do not disagree with that approach, but if a player takes a hard foul from his opponent, then says something to the kid that fouled him, now he is red carded and out of the game. In football, that stuff happens, but the team will get a penalty and not an ejection,” Terry said.

Coaches agree that sportsmanship needs to be addressed and some changes need to be made. They do not think removing two games from the schedule will affect a change. More players may skip high school soccer and continue playing for a club team, high school teams just lose two contests.

“With the suspension of two games, we were hoping to travel to St. George in the preseason and play, but now we may not be able to,” Solberg said.

Most high schools have player and fan contracts that they sign before the season. This helps remind participants of what is acceptable.

“I work very hard with my players. We want them to be honest players,” Terry said. “We will not tolerate a dirty player. We are all human, I would never say we are 100% in this area. We strive to improve every year.”

Player conduct will be re-evaluated after the season.

“For a majority of our matches things were fine,” Solberg said. “We had a close match against Kearns. The game got heated and it led to pushing and shoving, which was not OK. Before our next match with them, we got all of the players together at center circle. We discussed the game and that bad behavior would not be tolerated, and it was not a problem.”