Randy Smith: A Critique For The Men In Blue

Monday, August 11, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

First let me say how thankful I am for anyone who officiates youth sports. You know going in that there is not much money involved so most of you do it for the love of the game and especially for the love of kids. I am also proud to say how proud I have been to be affiliated with the Chattanooga Area TSSAA Umpires Association. You guys are the best and most professional anywhere. Anytime I go elsewhere for a high school sporting event, I always compare the umpires I see to you, and there is always no comparison.

That brings me to the subject of today’s column; unprofessional conduct on and off the field of play. I attended a high school softball tournament this weekend in north Georgia, (I am purposefully leaving out all names and locations to spare embarrassment) and I still can’t believe things I heard or saw. The overall appearance of the umpires was marginal, but the conduct of a few of them was atrocious.

One base umpire in particular was out of position to make calls all weekend long. He tried to stand in one place and officiate plays, and he constantly was in the way and out of position to see. When he was questioned by a coach who said nothing at all in a challenging way and never raised his voice, it was the umpire who “showed up the coach”, motioning him off the field, refusing to get help from the other umpire, and then throwing him out of the game. In Georgia as it is in Tennessee and other states, it is a $250 fine, and a two game suspension. After the game when the umpire was approached by a representative from the offending school to ask him to reconsider the ejection, he refused to speak with him at all.

This behavior was totally and completely unacceptable. This umpire obviously feels that to successfully officiate a game, he needs an ejection or two to show he is in charge, as he ejected a fan from the complex during his next game. I have prepared a list of things all umpires at any level should work on to become better.

1.    Fans are not there to see you officiate. They are there to watch the game.

2.    Be in control but do not be over-bearing and unapproachable. If challenged by a head coach on any call, allow the coach to ask his question and try to resolve the difference. If a coach asks for help from your partner, don’t be so egotistical as to think he may not have seen it better than you did.

3.    Hustle on every play. Always be in position to make the proper call, (in other words, make sure you have the right angle) see the play, analyze it, set your feet and make the call. Always “sell” the call so you will look sure you got it right.

4.    Never be afraid of missing calls. Every umpire is going to miss a call or two; we’re all human, but if you’re not sure, ask for help from your partner.  

5.    Never come to the ball park in a bad mood. If you do, leave your attitude at the gate or in the dressing room. The players and coaches have been working hard and they deserve your best.

6.    Look professional. Make sure your uniform is clean, and your shoes are shined. Wear clothes that fit, and that includes your belt. (Don’t wear a belt that is six sizes too big, and a cap that appears to be a couple of sizes too small.)

7.    Manage the game but don’t try to dominate it. When the game is over, leave the fans talking about how the players played the game, not how the umpires screwed things up. (Be invisible)

I personally haven’t umpired in the last two years due to health issues, but I have really missed being around the kids and my umpiring buddies. I hope the good Lord will heal me to the point that I can umpire again next spring. If not, I’ll be very happy to help coach, watch as many games as I can, and hang around the games that I love for many years to come. After all, if I can’t give these kids by best effort, I’ll stay off the field, because they deserve it.

-----

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com



Covenant Completes 2017-18 Men's Basketball Schedule

The 2017-18 Covenant men's basketball schedule for first-year head coach Neal Young has been finalized. The Scots will play 25 regular season games, with 10 of those taking place inside Barnes PE Center. Covenant will get its first taste of action in an exhibition at longtime foe Lee on  Saturday, Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. , in Cleveland, Tenn. The two programs were both ... (click for more)

Dalton State Lady Roadrunners 4 Shots Off The Lead After Day 1 In Covington

The #4-ranked Dalton State women's golf team opened its fall season on Monday at the SCAD-Atlanta Fall Invitational, firing a team total of (+17, 301) on the par-71 Oaks Course in Covington, Ga. and sit in 2nd place, four shots off the lead held by Northwestern Ohio and Brenau (Ga.) at (+13, 297). The score of the day for the Lady Roadrunners goes to sophomore Hannah Gasaway. ... (click for more)

Defense Will Not Get Federal Witness In Trial Of Truck Driver Charged In Wreck That Killed 6 People

The federal government is resisting sending a lab technician from Oklahoma to Chattanooga for next week's trial of Benjamin Brewer, who is charged in the wreck at Ooltewah that claimed six lives. Mike Little of the public defender's office said the defense should be entitled to have a live witness, but he also said he did not want the trial delayed again. A jury was selected ... (click for more)

Charles Vaughn, 72, Was Victim In Lookout Valley Fire On Sunday

The victim in Sunday's fatal fire at 1218 Judys Lane in Lookout Valley has been identified as Charles Vaughn. He was 72.   Details on the incident are still being obtained, but Mr. Vaughn was reportedly in the attached garage around  3 p.m. on  Sunday afternoon working on a lawnmower when the fire started. His wife and daughter were in the house ... (click for more)

Tired Of Property Tax Increases

Why is it every time the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County want to raise money they have to punish the homeowners?  I'm sick of the few paying for the many.   If you want to be fair, I would not complain on a 1/2 cent local sales tax raise since everyone would have to contribute their fair share.  Or how about a wheel tax which would get everyone who owns ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Third Son Takes His Life

Steven Ferrin, described by his parents as “a handsome, bubbly and witty young man,” was the victim of what is called “a sectarian attack” in recent weeks near his home in north Belfast (Ireland) and last weekend was found dead after the 31-year-old father of a 7-year-old girl had taken his own life. Compounding the tragedy is the horrific news that Steven’s other two brothers and ... (click for more)