Now that the kickball season has kicked off in all our cities and the NFL is set to kick off this week with replacement refs, it got me thinking. Let’s refresh everyone’s memory about the context of the game and what we expect from umpires, players and field monitors in our league. This post isn’t about one specific play or event that happened, but just a good refresher for everyone.
As some of you know and others may not, this league was started among friends, family and co-workers about 12 years ago with the intent of bringing people together to have a good time playing a sport that couldn’t be taken too seriously. It wasn’t necessarily about winning the game as it was coming together socially and having a fun night out on a weekly basis. With everyone being new to the sport and rules, the only thing to do was have players from teams umpire games, as it would be impossible to find someone well-versed in kickball rules, unlike other sports like softball or volleyball.
An evolution has occurred and we pretty much have a legitimate recreational sport on our hands.
I guess in the simplest terms, everyone expects the umpires to know the rules (Milwaukee version). It goes without say you should know the rules before playing so it only makes sense, right? You wouldn’t play basketball without knowing the rules so this shouldn’t be any different. Everyone also expect umpires to be paying attention to the game and making calls loud and clear. That means no cell phones or teammates distracting them during the run of play. Be confident and the more you make out of it, the more you’ll get out of it. That means if you don’t want to be there and you aren’t paying attention or making loud clear calls, you are going to have a miserable time because players will be complaining. We all make mistakes and there are going to be a lot of close calls. Just make a call. Right or wrong you will catch less grief then if you don’t make a call at all or appear distracted or uninterested. Lastly, have fun with it… joke with players and socialize. We’re all out there to have fun, so if the umps are having fun and are in-the-game, it makes for a better experience for everyone.
You are all expected to be respectful regardless of the call. You must get into your heads that there will be bad calls and mistakes made, it’s just the way it is. Nothing against your team or you, it just happens and there are a lot of close plays in kickball that could be called either way. Even at the pro level, it’s not perfect. Look at the example picture. The runner was called out and the first baseman was 3 feet off the base. The unfortunate thing of this situation was the other umpires (3 others) didn’t see or correct the call and this is a fulltime job for them. So you can say that all 4 MLB umpires blew it. The expectation for a volunteer umpire in a recreational kickball league, who probably is an accountant during the day and maybe not the biggest sports fan, to get everything correct 100% of the time just isn’t realistic. We will not tolerate players swearing or being abusive to the umpires regardless of the situation. If you have any problems with the umpires, please talk and not yell, to the field monitor. If problems persist, players can and will be asked to leave.
Field Monitor Expectations
The field monitor is there to bring the equipment, keep games on schedule, report scores to MUSA HQ and clarify rules in case there needs to be an explanation. Their job is not there to call balls and strikes or make judgment calls on the umpires behalf. However, in the case where an interpretation of a rule needs to be made, they may step in and make a call. An example might be the “over throw” rule or what is a dead or live ball. The field monitor should have the rules on-hand and can be a good place to turn if either players or umpires have questions about anything. If any situation comes up that might not be covered in the rules, the field monitor is there to help determine a ruling right there. They’re then encouraged to bring the situation up in an email to HQ and other field monitors and we’ll go from there.
We want to thank everyone that has, or is playing in our organization. Now let’s get out there and play.