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Bad Takes FC: The Mark Parsons Project

What exactly was he thinking?

Bennett Dewan

By now you’ve probably heard the official reason for Mark Parsons’ recent two one game suspension. But, if you’ve been living under a rock the last few days, here’s the juicy bit from the Professional Soccer Referees Association’s statement.

On March 24th, immediately following the conclusion of the North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns FC NWSL match, coach Mark Parsons of the Portland Thorns approached the match officials to shake their hands.

All normal so far.

As he shook the hand of one of the officials, he squeezed a hidden clump of dirt and grass into the official’s hand. He was immediately dismissed (sent off) from the match.

This is probably the most bizarre reason for a sending off I’ve ever heard, and if you’re like me, it only creates more questions.

First of all, how did Parsons even manage to hide a clump of dirt and grass in his hand? Is this like some sort of organic Joy Buzzer trick, only requiring greater (and messier) sleight of hand skills? How big was this clump? What was the ratio of dirt to grass?

Second, how does anyone ever even think of doing this? I don’t know about you, but I would never in a million years think of hiding dirt in my hand as a means of telling someone off. Also, note that Parsons coaches a team that plays and practices on turf, so this isn’t something he’s had much occasion to practice.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, what does it even mean? Lucky for you, faithful reader, we gathered Stumptown Footy’s best and brightest minds to try to solve this cultivation conundrum.

Tyler Nguyen: I can’t quite escape the sense that “grass handshake” is some kind of euphemism. Robbie Fowler once pretended to snort cocaine on the field while at Liverpool and his manager at the time said that he was pretending to eat grass. Maybe something even weirder happened and this is just the PG explanation.

Matt Hoffman: Google comes through again!

A good coach is, foremost, a good teacher.

Andrew Freborg: “Your hands need to be as dirty as the game NC played.”

Will Conwell: My personal belief is that Parsons found evidence of the dreaded Pueraria montana growing near the pitch and had collected a sample of it to verify that kudzu, an invasive species in North Carolina, was present. Invasive species are a bane on the native species of North America and Parsons’ dedication to his adopted country should be hailed, not punished. It is hardly Parsons’ fault that the referee in question has such a callous attitude toward the natural wonders of our nation.

It is both right and just that the suspension served to this hero of the Tar Heel State was reduced. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is criminal that Parsons’ attempt at preserving our great land was thwarted; rather, Parsons should be held up as an example to all of how we should treat the bounty that has been entrusted to us!

Josh Schreck: This isn’t very complicated. Parsons is British. The Brits love gardening. He was just trying to build a cultural bridge with someone from one of the original colonies. Football and Gardening. Nothing more British than that. It’s just a cultural exchange.

CR McNeil: “Here, you see this grass, this dirt? It’s got better eyes than you.”

Katelyn Best: So, I don’t think I can participate in the roundtable because this is the only correct take:

Welp, those are all the ideas we have. What do you think Parsons was trying to say? Let us know in the comments section.