Officiating youth sports games – whether it’s soccer, baseball, basketball, or whatever – is a thankless task. The best one can hope for is to go unnoticed, collect a $40 check for two hours of work, and maybe get a handshake and word of thanks from a reasonable coach afterward. But impartial officiating is essential if a sports league wants to have competitions. It doesn’t work otherwise. Relying on ten-year-old kids and passionate coaches to self-govern is a fool’s errand.
One might expect adults, aka parents, to be appreciative of those choosing to officiate in their spare time, but there appears to be a trend proving the opposite. Some parents have taken to verbal abuse and even threats in expressing their dissatisfaction with officials’ performances. As a result, there are youth sports leagues across the country that are suffering from shortages of officials, including in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Indiana where high school baseball games have been canceled.
When we see videos like this one, we can understand why there’s a shortage:
The video has gone viral after having been posted on TikTok and then shared on Twitter. On Twitter alone, the video has been retweeted over 4,500 times, quote-tweeted over 2,100 times, and has over 66,000 likes. And the comments from viewers overwhelmingly support the umpire, which is totally understandable.
We don’t know the exact age of the players, but they appear to be about 12-years-old, which begs the question: What were these parents thinking? And the answer to that question seems clear: They weren’t.
If you’re attending a professional baseball game, getting on the umps is one thing, but even then it’s bad form in most cases. Yes, those umpires are professionals who are paid handsomely and make their living doing it, but they’re human beings. They make mistakes. Sometimes an umpire or referee will make a call so egregious we can’t help ourselves, but those instances should be rare.
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But these situations are different. These aren’t professional players, they’re children. And these aren’t professional umpires, they’re doing it part-time because they want to be involved with youth athletics and make a couple of bucks along the way. A guy punches out from his job as a forklift driver, hurries to his car where he has his uniform and equipment waiting in the back seat, and then he rushes to the local field hoping he’s not late. All for a payday that won’t even fill up his gas tank. Those are the types of folks who officiate youth sports games.
Now consider that what we hear the parents shouting tells us all we need to know about their mindset:
Umpire: “This is just a game for your kid! Because you want to argue balls and strikes in a Little League game?”
Parent: “He didn’t argue balls and strikes, he walked up like a man to you.”
Wait, what? If it’s not OK to get on umpires from the stands at Little League games – which it’s not – then it’s even less OK to stand up, leave the stands, and then approach the umpire. If that umpire felt physically threatened, he was probably justified.
But the most outrageous comment may well have been from the woman we hear on the video, who’s the epitome of the term “Karen.”
Parent: “And this guy’s a firefighter who protects your neighborhood.”
So, that makes it OK? Just because you’re a volunteer firefighter, or even if you’re a professional firefighter, that makes it OK to go to your son’s Little League game to harangue and torment a part-time umpire? What is wrong with you?
Let’s do this. If you’re a part-time official for youth sports, do the best that you can, don’t be partial, and don’t go off on a power trip. And if you’re a parent watching a game, get a grip. If that umpire calls your son out on strikes, it’s not going to be the deal-breaker on whether he ends up playing for the Yankees. Show some respect and appreciation, and start setting a good example for your child.
By Jordan Case
Jordan Case offers opinions from the unique perspective of both entrepreneur and parent and is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative. Jordan does not participate in the cesspool of social media.
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