Youth leagues in the United States are experiencing a shortage of umpires and chair umpires due to parents and coaches showing aggression during youth games. Videos of brawls breaking out at youth baseball games across the country have surfaced, leading to concerns about the safety of children. Physical and verbal abuse by parents has a significant impact, resulting in a shortage of referees. Unfortunately, since 2017, the number of U.S. youth referees has declined. At the high school level, there are 20,000 fewer referees across all sports than before the pandemic.
To tackle this issue, South Jersey Little League created its own rules to prevent umpire jeering. In Ramsey, New Jersey, the Orioles faced the Robbins on a beautiful evening. Carl Carney, a 21-year-old veteran referee, called Little League games. Carney reveals that parents can sometimes get out of control, but he has learned to move past this issue and let the parents say what they want to say. He believes in working with gentle authority and letting parents speak their minds.
While some parents argue with referees, children like Jack and Evan see things from a different perspective. Jack Wood, a catcher for the Orioles, and Evan, a catcher for the opposing team, believe that referees are first-class men whom everyone should respect. They want to stay focused on the game, have fun, and not let the violent behavior of adults ruin their experience.
The Umpires Association of America warns that the number of baseball and softball umpires in the Babe Ruth Youth League is declining. Since 2017, that number has gone down from just above 6,000 to just below 5,000. With youth leagues already experiencing a shortage of umpires and chair umpires, it is essential to enforce strict rules to ensure that children play in a safe and fun environment. In the end, the children, not the adults, should have a say in how they play their favorite pastime.