You Want to Be an Umpire or Referee?
I have been around sports my entire life either playing, broadcasting, watching or even a little officiating for a while. The officiating part is what I'd like to address here. In the short time I umpired baseball, I found out quickly you won't make a living doing it unless you are among the elite. I did it, not for the money, but because I loved the game. I knew I couldn't play anymore, but I found a way to be a part of the game in a different way.
I also learned that fans can be really cruel. It amazes me how a chain-link fence can make a parent or fan feel like they have a license to verbally berate an umpire. I know it is the same in other sports as well and that is ridiculous.
Last week my co-host Sarah Deien wrote a piece on this website regarding brawling parents, of 7 year old players, who were fist-fighting on the field of a little league game in the Denver area. It all started because the umpire made a ruling on a "batting out of order" situation. That umpire was only 13 years old. The youthful umpire made the right call yet was subject to all kinds of abuse.
Is it any wonder why there is a shortage of officials for sporting events in this country? Who wants to be paid very little and be verbally abused? Therein lays the problem of a shortage of officials. Officials are not perfect. They make mistakes at all levels. Do you think they do so on purpose? Not this writer.
This shortage of umpires, and referees is not going away, but what might go away are the games themselves if the problem isn't rectified soon. Imagine, tonight's game has been cancelled due to the lack of umpires? Oh, I am sure it has happened before, but it may happen much more often in the future if things don't change and change soon.
Remember people it is just a game and players and officials are trying to do their best for their love of the game too, which may not be around long if we are not careful.