Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keep Control Over Yourself and the Game

One of the really wrong theories about officiating is that a good official is one you never notice. The umpire who made that statement was probably a real poor official who tried to get his paycheck and hide behind his partners and stay out of trouble all his life. Control of the ballgame is the difference between umpires that show up for the players and the managers.
- National League Umpire Bruce Froemming
As an amateur umpire you are expected to display exemplary behavior. If you had a bad day at work, or argument with your wife, or other personal problems, you must leave it in the parking lot. You do not have the luxury of heckling the players, coaches, or fans. You must resist getting the last word in, or going on a rant. It is simply not professional, and is damaging both to yourself as an umpire and to your brothers in blue.

Today, even at youth games parents have video cameras and camera phones to record little Johnny’s exploits. Unfortunately, these cameras also record our failures as umpires. Take for example the following umpire meltdowns filmed from the stands:

These videos are shameful. Whatever the provocation, the umpire cannot lose his cool and must remain in control of the game and its participants.

Here are a few tips to keep control and avoid escalating a bad situation into a YouTube nightmare:

  1. Turn an angry manager/coach to face the stands. That way everyone sees his histrionics and cannot see your actions (or hear your words).
  1. Listen to what is being said. Wait your turn to respond and expect the courtesy to be returned. If he walks away, LET HIM. Don’t insist on the last word. Warn if necessary, or eject if a line is crossed. It’s often tough to keep a player or manager in the game, but remember that ballgames are played on the field, not under the showers.
  1. Remember that silence can’t be quoted. Especially if you have ejected a game participant, you have ended the conversation. That doesn’t mean that you have to run away, but it does mean that you should shut your yap and start taking mental notes on what is being said.
  1. Protect yourself. Some managers/coaches think they are clever by getting close and spraying you or beaking you with the bill of the cap. By crossing your arms you keep more distance between you and an irate manager/coach.
  1. Pregame ejection procedures with your partners. Your partners should act as rodeo clowns to keep arguments one-on-one, escort an ejected participant from the field, or help control the situation.

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