Viewpoint - August 27, 2008

Guest opinion: Ref calls foul on beer and sports

by Bill Wallau

I have been a soccer and baseball official for over 40 years and cannot fathom the logic put forth in your article last week, "Players can have beer after the game."

What can the Portola Valley Town Council be thinking? There has always been an unwritten (and most times written) rule or law that alcohol of any kind, be it beer, wine or "hard liquor," is prohibited in or around any playing field. This applies to games for children as well as adults.

The absolute naivete of the council to think that this will permit players "to rehash just-concluded games" is absurd. What about the next game that follows their game? As an example, the incoming team is short and asks two of the players from the last game to join them. Sure, a couple of beers won't affect their playing ability until the referee gives them a card, or the ump calls them out on a close play, or even when they are fouled and react violently because they are "feeling good."

These are very possible scenarios, not just an argument I offer to get the council to rethink its decision.

Also, please give consideration to the children brought to watch daddy or mommy play. There is no reason for them to be subjected to alcohol of any sort at a sporting event, before, during or after. How many fast beers or glasses of wine does it take to reach the .08 blood level, especially when you are sweaty and exhilarated from competition? I'd hate to be on the council (lawsuits, guys and ladies) if daddy or mommy drove the kids home drunk (yep, it happens) and someone was hurt, or worse yet, killed.

I have lived in Portola Valley/Ladera and surrounding communities for over 40 years. There has never been a time when alcohol was permitted on or around any field where I have officiated. If a player has alcohol on his breath when he reports to me, he's not going to play. Most league rules clearly prohibit alcohol of any kind on or near a playing field. Does the council want to take on the various leagues who rent the fields? Do Portola Valley rules supercede league rules?

Steve Toben and his buddies can go to a nice bar or pizza parlor, and enjoy themselves after a game and rehash all they want, but let's not mess things up with alcohol mixed with athletic events. It just doesn't work for the players or the spectators.

I still officiate four to six adult soccer games a week, and I doubt I would find this problem in any other community on the Peninsula. Why Portola Valley?

Bill Wallau lives on Willow Road in Menlo Park.


Posted by Elle, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Sep 15, 2008 at 12:53 pm

How irresponsible of the Portola Town Council to endorse this type of behaviour on our community recreational outlets. I can't imagine what type of parents these adults are - both the adults on the town council and the adults on the sports teams that can't have an evening without their drugs.

Could there be a requirement that there is a schedule of all of these games published in the Almanac so that concerned residents can avoid those roads on those evenings? I've already been hit once by a drunk driver and would like to avoid it from happening again.

Posted by Mrs. Lovejoy, a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2008 at 3:43 pm

What about the children? Will no one think of the children?

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