In our area an umpire’s “association” has popped to serve the local Little Leagues in the area. Now if this association were formed with the kids in mind, as Little League is, then they would simply organize the best staffs, perform the proper background checks, provide training and equipment, and distribute the talent where needed. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As with any organization, profit is the motive.
The Little League guidelines specifically prohibit paying umpires. Umpires that want to get paid can join associations that provide officials to high schools, travel programs, and various leagues that are not volunteer community based. Or basically, anything that isn’t Little League!
Of course, where does this association go to get their officials? They dip into and steal the local umpires that are so generously volunteering their time for their community. The kicker is the small stipend they pay for a game. Yet, umpires are shunning their local league and entering other league’s boundaries just for a few dollars. Have we forgotten that every $1 we give, we receive $10 in return? This is truly the case.
I am the first to admit that I accept every paying umpiring job offered to me that is NOT Little League. I have no problem w/ that, those organizations have no desire to be volunteer organizations, nor do they pretend to be. I have umpired USSSA and AAU, but have not had time for High School. This association tried to recruit me as well, I told them, “I will never accept pay for umpiring a Little League game”. It is wrong on so many levels.
Not only is it wrong, I have a couple of issues that must be addressed by the association, though I know they won’t reply in public.
1. If Little League’s are boundary specific, how can umpires cross those boundaries?
2. Every volunteer “in regular contact” with the children MUST have completed a volunteer application. How does the association accomplish this since the local league performs the checks?
3. Am I being asked to put my children on fields w/ umpires who have not been properly screened when we visit other locations? This troubles me as the parent of teenage girls and young boys. Is there any proof of this documentation?
How can I know that my children are safe on the fields, in the parking lots, and in the bathrooms of Little League facilities if proper due diligence is not the norm? Are you as a Board of Directors that pays an association to provide you with umpires willing to accept the personal liability that comes with an incident God forbid? It would be “easy pickin’s” for even the least experienced of attorneys.
What we must do:
1. Terminate any league membership of any umpire that gets paid to umpire a Little League game.
2. Not allow any umpire that gets paid to umpire a Little League game to umpire ANY all-star or special privilege games.
3. Terminate all relationships with any associations as Little Leagues.
4. Recruit and train volunteers within our organizations to be the best they can be. You will be surprised who will say yes if you simply ask them.
5. Inform existing umpires if they leave for pay, their membership in the league will be terminated. This means they will never be able to coach, manage, serve on the board, umpire, vote, or volunteer in any way, shape or form, within the organization.
6. Recognize and embrace those willing to volunteer. Award them, provide them gear, drinks, and a pat on the back.
7. Do not antagonize or constantly criticize their work. They are doing the best they can.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. One of my best friends is our Umpire in Chief, and I hear every day about the struggles he goes through to get our games umpired. I don’t envy his position. But paying umpires is NOT the solution. Besides, we are a small league, but we play more than 10 games a week or so at home. That means $350/week for umps or about $3,500!!! How can you say you are being a proper steward of the people’s money if you are simply taking the easy road?
How do you feel about paid umpires in Little League?
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