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Treating our Umpires with Respect

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 9:57 AM

Below is an email sent to the Junior Football League from a Junior Footy Parent this week - it is different to most of the emails the league receives and is worth sharing. This is an important message about respect for umpires and is worth considering as we enter the second half of season 2017 and start preparing for the finals season.

It is worth a read:

"The debate continues about the standard of junior umpires. Our umpires are continually blamed for close losses, player injuries, lack of control and generally no idea about footy. No wonder it is hard for umpires to recruit and increase participation, given the harassment they receive from coaches, players, parents, and spectators.

I cringe when there is conflict between coaches and umpires. For young players, this is a bad example for a coach to be setting. Our kids, our youth, our players follow by example, and if they see their own coach confronting an umpire, they think it’s ok for them to do the same.

As a former player and coach, I have found myself frustrated at times with an umpire’s decision mid-match. One thing I know that has not changed over my years of involvement in football is that umpires will never change their decision after copping a mouthful of abuse from a coach or player.

The role of umpire’s must be recognised and respected by the coaches, the players, the timekeepers, spectators and the parents. The umpire in a footy match has complete authority over players and coaches from the moment that he or she walks onto the field until the game is over. It is an umpire’s job to officiate the match within the rules and keep our players safe. It is also the role of the coach to pull up players who overstep the boundaries and put themselves and opposition players in danger. I find it astounding that coaches often point the finger at the umpire rather than looking at their coaching methods or the actions of their players.

We need to remind everyone involved in our game of the consequences if you abuse an umpire. The actions can have a much greater impact than what you think. We need to reiterate the need to treat umpires with respect both as a club official, coach, player and a spectator.

I absolutely agree that our umpires need to be accountable, just as players and coaches are on match day. They need to be fit, know and understand the rules, position themselves on field in the best position to make good decisions and are to also show respect to the players and coaches involved in the match they are umpiring. There is an expectation that our umpires perform, just as our players are. One thing to remember is that umpires, like players will make mistakes during a game. Our umpires attend training sessions as do our players. Our umpires have coaches, as do our players. We should not hold the umpires to account for the result of a match because of one bad decision! One umpires bad decision should not be blamed on next week’s umpire. Again I find it astounding that parents and coaches feel it acceptable to criticise an umpire in ways they would never dream in criticising their own players or children.

Many sports have instituted a zero-tolerance policy for spectators and parents, resulting in ejection from the game if umpires/officials are taunted, abused or jeered. I have attended many games as a spectator / parent and observed other spectators and parents dishing out excessive abuse to the younger umpires. What these spectators didn’t realise was that they were only hurting the young umpires concentration on the game and possibly discouraging him / her from continuing to work as an umpire in the future.

Parents can help ensure the health and safety of umpires in the future by starting to educate their kids on showing and treating umpires with respect. Coaches, players, parents, and spectators should never argue or dispute the decision of an umpire, make negative or derogatory remarks or gestures towards an umpire, or otherwise behave inappropriately to disturb the normal course of play in a game. Not only is this behaviour setting a bad example for players, it distracts the umpire, makes the coach’s job harder, and takes away from the enjoyment of the game. Remember, it’s only a game, and it’s important to set a good example of respecting the umpire for our young players."

 

Umpires are a very important part of the game - our kids can’t play without them.

All umpires train weekly in an excellent program led by our Junior Umpiring Coaches and leadership teams.

While we may not agree with an umpire’s call, we always need to respect their authority on the field. No player, parent or official is permitted to approach an umpire to question a decision at any time.

If you have any concerns about the standard of umpiring, let your coach or manager know and they’ll take it through the proper channels. Please remember they are working hard and doing their best. Just like our players and even parents, umpires are not perfect!

We also need to remember that many of the umpires at our game are young, and still learning, so give them the space they need to do that!

If any family is interested in the umpiring program we strongly encourage you to give it a go – it’s a great way to become a leader, earn some pocket money and it also helps our players with their football awareness.

Contact Nick on email umpire@falconsdistrict.com.au