Softball Umpires A Threatened Species?

By Jim Sanderson
Our way of life is in danger of changing – the games that we umpire; the games that we have so much passion about. The games that are so much a part of our American culture and fabric of society, may not be played in the future due to lack of quality, trained, competent officials.

A serious shortage exists in most sports at all levels. The reasons why we have this problem are numerous and very complex. Stating the reasons without all stakeholders taking accountably is falling into a common trap of the blame game. There is a “what” to this challenge as well.

Why this is happening may be not be as out of our control as you might think. This is where the “what” comes in – having and working a plan of action is the what. We should be the articulation (talking about it) phase. Now is time for action; the doing part. Talk is cheap; action gets results – a whisper becomes a projected loudspeaker scream.

Enough talk. What can you DO? Do you talk to friends and let them know how being an umpire enriches your life? Have you recently brought a quality acquaintance into the officiating life? What do you do to smooth out the learning curve for a newer umpire? Do you portray a positive image that all can trust the honor of your decisions?
How do we professionally react to the disrespectful, demeaning comments from players, coaches, fans, commentators? How do we combat their aggressive, abusive actions?

These are challenges that attract us to this avocation. If it was easy everyone would do it. This job requires an overabundance of inner-strength, fortitude. Our world officiating softball is far from perfect and being always pleasant. The plusses, positives do outweigh the minuses, negatives. Often it takes the perspective of time to allow healing from the wounds of doing our many times unpopular job of making game gut decisions.

Please do something this year to find new officials, help train them. Learn to be at peace with yourself. You matter. Find your place