Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mourning Ricardo Portillo

photo by Ingy The Wingyvia PhotoRee

In which Scott perfectly captures our feelings -- for perhaps the first time all year:

Serving as a referee on Saturdays for teenagers in a Recreational League, Ricardo Portillo’s passion for the beautiful game was obvious.  That his life was tragically snuffed out with one petulant punch by a rebuked goalkeeper renders equal parts of anger and sadness.  Our thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with Portillo’s family as they attempt to make sense of the senseless.  And our ire is cast at any and all players and parents who fail to respect the integrity of the rules of the game and proper comportment.

I was not a witness to this incredulous event nor do I know the protagonists on a personal level.  Still, that has never stopped me from stating facts (OK, opinions) on the subject at hand.  First, I agree with the illustrious president of Fort Lauderdale Select FC, Mark McCormick, who have opined that “this probably was not the first incident for this kid. I'd bet my last dollar that he grew up in a culture where referee abuse was considered a sport to itself. He likely had a parent who spent their games yelling at referees from his earliest ages in the sport or coaches who did the same. It's rare that a kid suddenly turns violent with a referee. It's usually the last straw in a long progression of failed parental or coaching leadership.”  Second, what are YOU going to do about it the next time you witness such fomentation?  Will you say something?  Will you keep your child on the team just because they win?

It is inconceivable to me that someone who volunteers his time (how much do you think he really got paid?) to referee games so youths can enjoy sport could ever be treated so poorly, or assaulted, let alone killed, by the very charges he is there to help.  Shame on any parents who condone anything but respect for officials.  I’m not saying you can’t disagree with their decisions, but to “respectfully disagree” should not be an anachronistic term.

We salute all those who coach, referee or otherwise positively influence children in sports.  We salute Ricardo Portillo.  May he rest in peace.

This is a saddened farlieonfootie for May 11. 

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