Youth sports teams need more umpires, umps ask for respect
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — If you have children who are involved in youth sports around Snohomish County, you may have noticed a shortage of umpires and referees at certain games
In many little league sports, the umpires, referees and coaches are unpaid volunteers. Other umpires work in officiating as a side gig or hobby to do in their spare time.
Youth sports can use help with more locals officiating games, but game officials are staying away because of harassment.
For little league soccer, many select teams pay their older players to officiate games within the local area, but for baseball and basketball there seems to be a drought of officials.
Jesse Podoll has witnessed parents harass umpires first-hand.
“Parents can be brutal toward the umpires and coaches,” Podoll, who is a former director for the Snohomish Pilchuckers youth baseball organization, said. “If their kid isn’t getting the right calls or getting enough playing time, that can really create a lot of pressure.”
This treatment of officials can also have an impact on the players: Many select kids often volunteer to officiate little league games, but after seeing the treatment umpires receive they may not be so keen to volunteer.
According to Podoll, as of a couple of years ago every game used to have at least two local umpires, but now most umpires usually are coming from out of town.
“We would get guys that drove from Kent or Tukwila just to officiate a game here,” Podoll said. “Most of these umpires do this as a side job and driving that far for such little pay is hardly worth it to some.”
Will Knudsvig Jr. volunteers for the games his children play in and suggested the reason for the shortage of umpires is due to parents being rude to umpires. He mentioned that with a shortage of officials, the quality of officials is less than it could be.
“It is at the point where we are not going to have any officials in the next 5-6 years if this trend of rudeness doesn’t stop,” Knudsvig said over email.
Many parents have acknowledged and voiced their support for the better treatment of umpires and referees.
Podoll and others said one common suggestion is for each little league to enforce a set of rules to limit player-referee interactions. Another suggestion would be to enforce a league etiquette where parents are instructed to treat officials with respect.
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