Often an overlooked aspect of the Little League program, umpiring is one of the most important. The volunteer umpire is as much a part of Little League as the volunteer manager, coach or concession stand worker.
There is no sound reason for paying umpires, or any other person whose services should be provided on a volunteer basis. Many districts and leagues have found successful ways to operate volunteer umpiring programs, helping to defray the costs that might normally be passed on to the parents. Some leagues provide new equipment or uniforms to umpires to use in performing their service to the league, then the umpire can retain the items after a certain period of time.
Little League also offers many training materials, clinics and seminars on umpire education, as well as the Little League Umpire Registry. The registry allows volunteer umpires to receive regular mailings from Headquarters on rule interpretations, updates, etc.
Who is responsible for the conduct of umpires? First and foremost, it is the umpire himself/herself. Each of us in Little League must take responsibility for our own actions. However, umpires are appointed by the local league president and approved by the local league board of directors. Only the local league board of directors has the authority to dismiss or suspend any local league umpire from regular season games.
A select group of volunteer umpires whose knowledge, experience and demeanor have received recognition at top levels of Tournament Play are invited each year to officiate at one of the World Series tournaments. In keeping with the volunteer aspect of the local league, travel expenses for World Series umpires are borne by the umpires themselves.
The District Administrator is responsible for nominating umpires (those who volunteer their time to local Little Leagues within the district) for upper level tournaments. Most umpires who reach the pinnacle of youth sports officiating (one of the World Series of Little League Baseball or Softball) have been volunteering their time to local Little Leagues for a decade or more.
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