Umpire Abuse Is Not the Parent’s Fault
When they say, "Play Ball", there's more meaning to that, then we usually think about. We typically thinks it's just a saying to get the baseball game underway.
But let's back up for a moment and think about why it's called "playing baseball". Because playing is what it is. It's not working baseball, it's playing baseball. It's a fun game at any age level. I'll bet you would be hard pressed to find a pro that's not enjoying playing the game.
This story is a followup to a recent story we did on how umpires are quitting because of abuse they are getting from the parents. We are talking about about little league kids baseball. Some parents are not understanding their role in the bleachers.
Who do you blame? Is it the parents fault? I say not at all! Let me point out here that I am a former player and currently a head coach in baseball, and I take coaching very serious.
If you go to a game and hear an umpire getting verbally abused by parents, it's not the sign of a bad umpire or a parent out of line. What you are seeing is the fault of the coach. This is the coach's deal.
Anyone who steps up to be "Mr. Important", the head coach, better be ready to do more than boss the kids around. You need to haul the equipment, work out the lineups, plan and run the practices and warmups, and so on.
But it doesn't stop there. You have to motivate and educate not only the players, but also the parents. Most parents don't know any better, they think they are helping the kid's game.
A coach must educate the parents on what their role is. I do it all the time. Ask any parent that has a child I've coached. I've instructed them to do nothing but cheer the kids on.
I have given every parent of any kid I've coached permission to say only two things to their child on the ride home. Number one: "I really enjoyed watching you play tonight!" And number two: "What do you want to eat?'
If there's a parent abusing an umpire, the coach should call time out and quietly ask the parent to stop. Request a full private discussion for after the game. Then quickly resume play. After the game, hold a parent meeting and explain how they are hurting the kids and their play of the game.
When I hold any meeting regarding this issue, and there have been more than a few, I make one thing perfectly clear. We are going to honor the game, the rules, the officials, the opponents, our team and most importantly, ourselves.
If the ump sucks, again, it's the coaches job to handle that too! No wonder there's not a long line of people trying to take my job away. I've stopped asking myself why I do this. I know the answer is, because I love it!