In relating the following story I am reminded of a t-shirt that enjoyed considerable popularity among US soccer-philes of the mid-nineteen nineties. The shirt came in different colors with different fonts, but always said, "Men play football . . . Intelligent men play soccer." In retrospect, I see how sport snobbery like this did more to guarantee soccer will never be the People's Sport of the United States than it did to attract new fans to the game, but I also have come to believe that, regardless of how much it sounds like something Little Lord Fontleroy's mother would say, it actually touches on a kernel of truth.
With any sport, I believe the relative IQ of its participants (coaches or players) can be roughly estimated in observing their interactions with officials, especially when the participants believe they have been hosed on a call. Football players punch referees and clutch at metaphoric migraines; baseball players kick dirt and invade personal space; basketball players throw chairs and wince at perceived injustice; and hockey players throw sticks . . . eh.
It's not that soccer players do not act like morons as well. Certainly, the wild gesticulations and impassioned expressions of innocence witnessed at the average soccer match have their own unique pathology of idiocy, but the following nears litigious genius and could only have happened on the soccer pitch:
A coach approached a referee after a match to "discuss" how horribly the coach believed the match to have been called. Very calmly and in a concerned tone, the coach asked the referee, "Excuse me, but what would you do if I said you were the worst fucking referee I have ever seen?"
Responding in an equally calm but matter-of-fact tone, the referee said, "Well, I would have to issue you a red card for profane and unsporting dissent."
"Hmm," grunted the coach. "And what would you do if I thought you were the worst fucking referee I have ever seen?"
The referee paused for a moment, and, in a Holier Than Thou display of wise-ass button-pushing, responded,"Well, sir, your thoughts are your business and I certainly cannot reprimand you for having them."
"Ok then," said the coach, "I THINK you are THE WORST FUCKING REFEREE I HAVE EVER SEEN!"
No red card. No discussion.