Kidz "n" Sports

Have You Tried It Lately?

Did you see that Alabama-Minnesota softball game?

If you didn’t here’s a link.

Was that a strike or what?  How did that umpire miss that call?

I’ve seen a number of┬áposts about bad calls throughout the playoffs so far. ┬áThe comments range from benign to extreme. ┬áBut guess what? ┬áThe comments you hear are the same comments you hear every year in various sports. ┬áOn every close call (or even many not-so-close calls) there is going to be someone who agrees and someone who disagrees. ┬áIt’s part of the game.

Have you ever tried being an umpire? ┬áI used to umpire slow pitch softball. ┬áThat has to be easy.┬á ┬áIf the ball hits the mat it’s a strike. How much easier can it be? ┬áI can tell you there were times where the ball came down right by the edge of that mat and it is not always so easy. ┬áBut you have to make a call. ┬áI especially laugh at fans at a major-league baseball game who complain about a close call on balls and strikes. ┬áThe fans are a minimum of 40 feet away and at various angles. ┬áThe umpire is right behind the catcher. ┬áAs a softball coach I often can tell with fairly good accuracy, on balls and strikes from the dugout or coach’s box. ┬áBut sometimes I can be off. ┬áBut here’s the bigger issue.

Why do we let our players, or ourselves, blame the umpires, or anyone else for that matter, for our shortcomings?  I learned two things a long time ago:  First, one call never wins or loses a game, and second, without respect for authority we might not have a game.

I’ve never had much of a problem with the second issue. ┬áI’ve never been tossed from any game I’ve coached or played in in any sport. ┬áI did get tossed once as a scorekeeper but I was falsely blamed for something another parents said. ┬á(The other parent apologized to me after the game. ┬áIt wasn’t a big deal. ┬áThe ump was a real old guy having a tough time with both teams). ┬áThe first lesson was well spoken at a coach’s clinic I attended. ┬áI forget the first coach that said this (there have been many over the years), but the lesson is the same. ┬áWhy did you allow yourself to be in the position where one call could change the course of the game?

Let’s look at the Alabama-Minnesota game.

  1. ┬áWhy were the bases loaded? ┬áIf the bases weren’t loaded that walk wouldn’t have mattered. ┬áGet the next batter out.
  2. Why didn’t your team score more runs? ┬áIf you are ahead that run would not beat you. ┬áWorse case is it could only tie you.

Nobody likes mistakes, especially in the bottom of the last inning of a close game.  But if you think that umpire has it easy, check out this episode of Sports Science:

Still want to ump?

I’m sure a lot of people feel bad for Minnesota. ┬áThey had a great season and I’ll bet they’ll be back next year. ┬áIt’s easy to root against the big dog but let’s face it, Alabama is a great program. ┬áIn all the hype and commotion, let’s try to remember what we teach our players and our children:

  1. ┬áDon’t blame someone else (i.e. umpires) for your failures.

Teach first, win later.

Coach Mike


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