There’s a phrase we hear a lot when the news channels cover numerous high profile legal stories these days, and it’s also been said in sports, in classrooms, or even when kids clash in their neighborhoods.
Mess around and find out.
Moreso the phrase “(place a name or group here) found out” implies an individual disregarded the clear warning.
Thursday night one Concord fan found out.
This is how we arrived at the finding out stage Thursday night.
The energy in evening’s varsity girls’ soccer match seemed constructively intense early on, but as officials “let the girls play” both sides of the stands were demonstratively angry at levels I have not seen among the three seasons I’ve PA announced soccer full time at the Tiger Soccer Complex (TSC).
In the early part of the second half, there was contact on a play where both sets of fans were equally heated, hollering their case to the referee collective for the need to assess yellow cards on numerous plays.
The official finally stopped play and addressed the crowd, warning them further outbursts were going to result in as much necessary removal of unruly fans from the TSC until the fans’ collective behavior deescalated.
The athletic administrator on site Thursday also added, in his trademark calm and professional demeanor, that it would serve the student athletes well if this intense energy were channeled into more positive comments from the stands.
With these things said, the Concord fan found out about 90 seconds after the warning as play continued to be paused.
His comments were rude, and he slathered some profanity on his dish of rudeness served to the refs and the crowd, with additional profane salvos as he exited the facility.
Play had not yet resumed, and in my mind’s eye, I believe this delay was the longest four-to-six minutes.
Amidst all this, with the center referee conferring with Concord’s and Warsaw’s captains, I witnessed something remarkable.
I saw no one among coaches, players on the pitch, nor athletes on the teams’ sidelines implode.
They didn’t even escalate to a level of a collective annoyed plea to the fans to calm down so they could resume playing the game they love.
The Lady Tigers led 2-0 at that point in a very physical match courtesy of arguably extraordinary on-pitch wiggle room allowed by the officials.
One could say the relaxed allowance of extraordinary physical contact was a Gollum the refs were feeding while fueling hostility from the angry crowd. It felt like the chicken-or-the-egg debate.
Play resumed and the Lady Tigers added five goals to their side’s offensive production, ending the match with a 7-0 win.
There were many great plays during the evening, but the most indelible impression left upon me by student athletes on both sides both sides was their ability to keep their head in the game and appear composed enough to wait for the adults to deescalate.
A tip of my hat to the kinder on the pitch. Your decorum was not overlooked by most of us.
Shortly after play resumed, the officials issued at least one or two yellow cards to alleviate the effects of allowable contact up to the pause in play.
It is remarkable, even in the current climate, how some people – like the Concord fan whose departure was involuntarily premature – will not even hesitate more than 90 seconds to mess around and find out.
Warsaw’s composure on the pitch is testimony to why they are, at this point, in the driver’s seat of a tight race for the Northern Lakes Conference title, keeping the Lady Tiger’s title streak rolling, a handful of consecutive years straddling two decades.