Treating Umpires With Respect
By Deb Yeagle
Umpires seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs. No wonder, given all of the harassment they receive from coaches, parents, and spectators.
I cringe when sparks fly between coaches and umpires. For young players, this is a bad example for a coach to be setting. Kids follow by example, and if they see their own coach confronting an umpire, they think it’s OK for them to do the same.
Why is it the baseball highlight shows will repeatedly display an altercation between a manager or player and umpire in a Major League Baseball contest? I may not be able to prevent my son from seeing these disturbing scenes on SportsCenter, but I can remind him of the consequences (the manager or player being tossed from the game), and reiterate the need for him to treat umpires with respect both as a player and a spectator.
More disturbing to witness than a parent critiquing a coach is a parent barraging an umpire with a blue streak of unkind words, unfit to be heard by spectators and young players alike. Many leagues have instituted a zero tolerance policy for spectator parents, which results in ejection of both the parent and their player from the game if umpires are taunted or verbally jeered.
The role of umpire must be recognized and respected by the coaches, the players, the scorekeepers, and the parents. The umpire in a baseball game has complete authority over players and coaches from the moment that he or she walks onto the field until the game is over.
Youth umpires must be given the same respect as the adult umpires. I have attended many games as a spectator / parent and observed other spectators and parents dishing out excessive abuse to the younger umpires. It was embarrassing! What these spectators didn’t realize was that they were only hurting the young ump’s concentration on the game and possibly discouraging him from continuing to work as an umpire.
Many of today’s umpires are experienced, senior citizens at retirement age or greater. Working part time as umpires, they deserve the same respect as any other adult umpire. Parents can help ensure the health and safety of these senior umpires by offering water to them between innings and making sure they are hydrated, which is particularly important for any age umpire during games in the peak of summer. It’s also a nice gesture to offer your umpires a complimentary snack and drink from the concession stand if your team is handling concession duties, especially if the umpires are working multiple games for a tournament or doubleheader.
Coaches, players, parents, and spectators should never argue or dispute the decision of an umpire, make negative or derogatory remarks or gestures towards an umpire, or otherwise behave improperly to disturb the normal course of play in a game. Not only is this behavior setting a bad example for young players, it distracts the umpire, makes the coach’s job harder, and takes away from the enjoyment of other parents, spectators, and fans. Remember, it’s only a game, and it’s important to set a good example of respecting the umpire for the young players.
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