Change-Up For Parents: Stop Complaining And Get Behind The Plate

Commentary By: Morgan Reitzel, Follow South Jersey Intern

DEPTFORD, N.J. – Deptford Little League Baseball president Don Bozzuffi developed a new rule this season that if a fan is rude to the umpires, the person will have to umpire three games, under the supervision of an official ump before they can return to being a fan. 

This rule will have fans thinking twice about being rude and shouting at umpires just trying to do their job. If the fan does not comply with the rules, they will be banned from all little league sporting events in Deptford for a year. Keep in mind that these children are under 10 years old, this isn’t life or death. 

Due to the fact that two umpires quit early in the season as a result to the verbal abuse they have experienced by fans, Deptford little league has had no choice but to put their new rule in place. 

Even though, this is the first week with the new rule implicated, everything seems to be going good so far and the feedback has been positive according to Bozzuffi. 

“We’re hoping we don’t have to hand out disciplinary actions — that’s not our intention. We’re trying to educate people as to what goes on in the course of a game and the difficulties an umpire has in making some of these calls.” exclaims Bozzuffi

What some people don’t realize is that being an umpire is not an easy job. You have to get certification,watch the entire game, keep all the children safe, all while making the correct calls. It’s not easy to go to work when they are getting verbally abused either. 

According to Bozuffi, people should just be worried about concentrating on their child and not on the umpires. In past years, some of the incidents have gotten so bad that local law enforcement has had to be called to calm down the fans. Despite the police getting involved, when the police would leave the field, the fans would just start up with their verbal abuse again. 

“One gentleman just started umpiring three weeks ago and was doing a lot of games and just said, ‘I’m really sorry, I thought I had tough skin, but I don’t. I can’t take it. I can’t do it anymore,’” Bozzuffi said.

Fortunately, then fans realized how bad the situation was after the rule was put into place, three people volunteered to umpire. 

Bozzufi also emphasized that “99%” of spectators at Deptford Little League games are “awesome and here in a positive way. It’s a small percentage that just don’t get it and we have to help them get it.”’

It is important to note that verbal abuse in sports is not new. Many referees and umpires across the country have been quitting or not coming back for the next season for the reason that they are not being treated well. One D.C. area baseball official assigning group has reported that only 50% of their first-year umpires have returned and only 20-50% of returning umpires have come back. On top of not being treated well, umpires and reference only get paid $25-$65 per game from youth rec games to varsity-level leagues; it’s a no brainer why they aren’t coming back. 

Generally speaking, kids are there to have fun, meet friends, and learn how to play a sport. Not everyone is going to the MLB so sit down. 

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