Milford Little League is facing a shortage of umpires, an issue facing many youth sports leagues today. Wayne Hurd, a volunteer with Milford Little League, explained that it is not difficult to become an umpire.
“As far as training goes, individuals must become familiar with the rules of the game,” Hurd said. “Many of the rules are similar to what you would typically see in Major League Baseball, but there are some that are different. In addition to studying the rules, individuals must learn the field mechanics of where to stand, how to move and how to communicate to align with the play that is happening.”
Hurd believes there are several reasons for the lack of umpires. There is a nationwide shortage of sports officials across all sports.
“In HS football for example, all games used to be played on Friday night in the Henlopen Conference, but now games are played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, due to the shortage of officials. There aren’t enough officials to do all the games in one night.,” Hurd said. “This nationwide shortage is fueled by existing officials walking away from the game due to referee abuse, harassment, and assault in some cases. Additionally, new official recruitment is difficult due to the fact that they don’t want to be yelled at. Somewhere along the line people feel like they are entitled to yell at officials when they don’t get a call their way. All this does is propagate poor sportsmanship and set a bad example for the kids. Also at the present time, we do not pay our officials. It is strictly volunteer, but we do reward them with a meal from the concession stand at the end of the game. Lastly, umpiring is one of those activities that is a thankless job. Very few people know the hard work and the amount of time spent studying, attending training sessions, traveling, sometimes foregoing your family activities to umpire a game. Additionally, the cost of equipment is not cheap to get involved in.”
Milford Little League season has opened, and games are in full swing, Hurd said. Games are played Monday through Friday on multiple fields with teams engaging in both baseball and softball.
“On any given night, we could require p to 10 umpires between baseball and softball across all the various age groups. Many of our existing umpires are already giving up 2-3 nights a week to help us and we cannot expect more from those folks,” Hurd said. “We need to supplement and replenish our cadre of umpires because looking around, we have a strong core of folks who are 50-60 years old. We have already gone through 10+ years of Little League with our own kids.”
Anyone who is interested in becoming an umpire for Milford Little League can visit their website or visit the concession stand to leave contact information at any time during the season. The volunteer form can be accessed at https://www.milfordball.com/volunteer.
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