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Guest IamToast

Mic'd up

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Guest IamToast

What do you folks think of audio recording umpires during high school games ? My intent is to use it as a self-improvement tool (what did I say...how could I handled the situation better). Secondary benefit is to protect myself from false accusation by others. If it becomes a he said, he said situation, an audio recording could come in handy. 

What are the ethical considerations of making such recordings without anyone else's knowledge (my state has a one-party consent law) ? The reason that I want to do it secretly is because I don't want to change the game dynamics (folks may act differently when the camera/microphones are turned on). So I have mixed feelings about doing this. Anyone have an opinion on mic'g up the umpires ? 

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But the legality of you recording someone else (inadvertent or not) might be of concern.  Personally, I wouldn't.  Don't take this wrong, but, if I was this worried about "handled situations" that couldn't be covered in a post game.......I'd probably be working soccer games instead.

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4 hours ago, Guest IamToast said:

What do you folks think of audio recording umpires during high school games ? My intent is to use it as a self-improvement tool (what did I say...how could I handled the situation better). Secondary benefit is to protect myself from false accusation by others. If it becomes a he said, he said situation, an audio recording could come in handy. 

What are the ethical considerations of making such recordings without anyone else's knowledge (my state has a one-party consent law) ? The reason that I want to do it secretly is because I don't want to change the game dynamics (folks may act differently when the camera/microphones are turned on). So I have mixed feelings about doing this. Anyone have an opinion on mic'g up the umpires ? 

And the con is you may well confirm someone's accusation.   People keep their email forever and put webcams in their cars expecting it to save their ass and never consider that it may bury them.

Anyway - Legal or not, you want consent...period.   Especially around minors. 

And, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that, though there may be a slight change at first, over time the knowledge of being recorded becomes secondary and people act as they would any other time.   This is evident in board rooms, airplane cockpits, high security areas, etc.

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The FED has rules for players and coaches as to what they can wear or carry on the field. Other than rule 10-1-9 authorizing gray slacks and navy pullover shirt I don’t think the FED has any other rule concerning what an umpire may wear on the field. But there is a rule that might be applied to umpires wearing microphones or other recording devices. That would be rule 1-5-11:

ART. 11 . . . Non-traditional playing equipment must be reviewed by the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee before it will be permitted to be used.

So, I ask you I am Toast wouldn’t you/shouldn’t you get permission from the governing body before actually doing this? After all, doesn’t it become a question of safety? In addition, I don’t think your plan adheres to some tenets of the Officials Code of Ethics found in the back of the rule book.

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15 minutes ago, Senor Azul said:

The FED has rules for players and coaches as to what they can wear or carry on the field. Other than rule 10-1-9 authorizing gray slacks and navy pullover shirt I don’t think the FED has any other rule concerning what an umpire may wear on the field. But there is a rule that might be applied to umpires wearing microphones or other recording devices. That would be rule 1-5-11:

ART. 11 . . . Non-traditional playing equipment must be reviewed by the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee before it will be permitted to be used.

So, I ask you I am Toast wouldn’t you/shouldn’t you get permission from the governing body before actually doing this? After all, doesn’t it become a question of safety? In addition, I don’t think your plan adheres to some tenets of the Officials Code of Ethics found in the back of the rule book.

Umpires don't use playing equipment so this is not relevant.

The issue would best be resolved by the OP bringing it up with his association. Nothing said here matters over what they say.

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2018 NFHS Baseball Rule 10-1 ART. 5 . . . The use of videotape or equipment by game officials for the purpose of making calls or rendering decisions is prohibited.

For Matt, if this type of electronic device is prohibited then wouldn’t it also be illegal for the umpire to secretly wear a microphone?

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7 minutes ago, Senor Azul said:

2018 NFHS Baseball Rule 10-1 ART. 5 . . . The use of videotape or equipment by game officials for the purpose of making calls or rendering decisions is prohibited.

For Matt, if this type of electronic device is prohibited then wouldn’t it also be  illegal for the umpire to secretly wear a microphone?

No, because it's not being used for either of the two purposes listed. Let's flip that question around for perspective--if his association and state governing body were to ask an umpire to wear one, would that be in violation of the rules? Nope.

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So, simply because only two reasons are given as to why electronic devices are prohibited anything else is OK. Right? Has Matt considered whether this plan to secretly mic up complies with the following tenets of the Officials Code of Ethics? The OP did ask about the ethical aspects of his plan.

Officials shall work with each other and their state associations in a constructive and cooperative manner.

Officials shall uphold the honor and dignity of the profession in all interaction with student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, school administrators, colleagues, and the public.

Officials shall remain mindful that their conduct influences the respect that student-athletes, coaches and the public hold for the profession.

Officials shall, while enforcing the rules of play, remain aware of the inherent risk of injury that competition poses to student-athletes. Where appropriate, they shall inform event management of conditions or situations that appear unreasonably hazardous.

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Just now, Senor Azul said:

So, simply because only two reasons are given as to why electronic devices are prohibited anything else is OK. Right? Has Matt considered whether this plan to secretly mic up complies with the following tenets of the Officials Code of Ethics? The OP did ask about the ethical aspects of his plan.

Officials shall work with each other and their state associations in a constructive and cooperative manner.

Officials shall uphold the honor and dignity of the profession in all interaction with student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, school administrators, colleagues, and the public.

Officials shall remain mindful that their conduct influences the respect that student-athletes, coaches and the public hold for the profession.

Officials shall, while enforcing the rules of play, remain aware of the inherent risk of injury that competition poses to student-athletes. Where appropriate, they shall inform event management of conditions or situations that appear unreasonably hazardous.

A. If they aren't being used for those purposes, there is no rules basis to ban them. They do not impact play and they are not being used for those banned purposes. No different than a watch (tacky, unprofessional, but not banned.)

B. I already answered it. This really isn't a place for any of us to make ethical decrees--it is up to the people who assign him.

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I'm surprised that we haven't seen this question before. We live in a society where surveillance is growing: outside of our own homes, we are subject to being recorded virtually anywhere we go. Inside our homes, we are watched on our computers.

It was only a matter of time before officials turned around some of the tools of surveillance in order to protect themselves. The rules don't address this question explicitly; someone has already mentioned state laws: these are quite different from state to state about the legality of recording others without their knowledge or consent (and vary as well about recordings in public spaces).

These differences make the task of addressing the question virtually impossible for a national body like NFHS or NCAA: anything they came up with would have the force only of guidance, recommendation, or best practices.

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13 hours ago, Senor Azul said:

So, simply because only two reasons are given as to why electronic devices are prohibited anything else is OK. Right?

Essentially, that is correct.

There is nothing wrong with me setting up video equipment to record my mechanics. For that matter, there's nothing wrong with setting up video equipment to watch later and see if I got the call right or wrong, or whether the runner missed the base, or whether that pitch was a ball or strike -- I just can't use it in the moment to make those calls.

In SC, their state meeting for coaches even explicitly stated there should be video of any ejections: "Video Everything - No excuse to not have video." Later, they state that video can help in any pitch count discrepancies -- obviously to be used after the game.

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21 hours ago, Guest IamToast said:

What do you folks think of audio recording umpires during high school games ? My intent is to use it as a self-improvement tool (what did I say...how could I handled the situation better). Secondary benefit is to protect myself from false accusation by others. If it becomes a he said, he said situation, an audio recording could come in handy. 

Are you asking as an umpire, or as a non-umpire (coach)?

If as an umpire, several others have given you responses, and rules aside, things will go very badly, if not far worse, for you if it’s discovered you’ve got a recording device in an amateur game without full disclosure of such. Professional games are microphoned (either directly or via a shotgun microphone aimed at the PU) by MLB for their own purposes. Within that, those recordings are rarely shared with the public, and if they are, it’s done very strategically. Same goes for the NCAA, which has mic’d up PU’s in conjunction with the broadcast partner (SEC Network, ESPN, etc.) for specific games for insight into how those games are conducted. Of course, the NCAA and the broadcast partner retain those rights; coaches, umpires, and other participants are fully aware of what’s being disclosed. Within that, there is a representative of the NCAA monitoring those recordings in real time, and is not going to allow the broadcast partner to replay (or “air”) a portion that puts a coach or umpire (and thus, the Association) in a poor light.

NFHS has no such provision. If, as @Mattsays, an assigning association of responsibility inquires or directs you to wear a recording microphone, then they are accepting the ramifications of it. But if you’re doing this, independent of their knowledge or authority? You’ve just stepped into a steaming cowpie of liability.

Devoid of Association authorization, do you want to learn how to handle situations-in-review? Simple – talk less.

If you’re asking as a coach, then so-help-you if you’re found to have a recording device inside the confines of the field (this includes the dugout), let alone concealed on your person so as to catch me or one of our colleagues in a “gotcha!” moment. In tournament baseball, I’ve had to admonish the occasional coach who wants to record his kid or prized player during their at-bat or while pitching. I tell them, sternly but still with a sprinkle of humor, that they can either be a coach or a photographer, but not both, and not on this field. I’ve shut down coaches who have been handed a smartphone or tablet by someone outside the fence, claiming “we have the play right here!”, with something along the lines of, “If you bring that over here, you’ll be ejected”. In these same tournaments, we often have the TD and his staff recording the game (with a GoPro or iPod Touch located just behind the backstop) to use for analysis and promotion. As an umpire, I’m fully aware this is taking place, but I have no “right” or latitude to go “outside the fence” and consult that video after a play; neither should a coach.

 

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I'm going to dissent from most of you here. Baseball games are an inherently public activity, and there is no expectation of privacy. A local TV or radio station could legally come and record the exact same conversation with their own shotgun mics. What's the difference? What possible liability could come from recording in a public place at a public event?

Ethically is a whole different story - and I can see arguments made on either side. I'm not weighing in there (at least until I've had some time to think about it).

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If you want to check out a good example, try to find last year's SEC championship game. They were mic'd and the plate ump put on a great demonstration of communication.

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4 hours ago, kylehutson said:

I'm going to dissent from most of you here. Baseball games are an inherently public activity, and there is no expectation of privacy. A local TV or radio station could legally come and record the exact same conversation with their own shotgun mics. What's the difference? What possible liability could come from recording in a public place at a public event?

I don't think anyone has made mention of this part of the issue.

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40 minutes ago, kylehutson said:

What possible liability could come from recording in a public place at a public event?

This isn’t a public event, though. The OP is explicitly posing this within High School. Most High Schools may be public institutions, but there are minors involved, and they are not public access. 

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21 minutes ago, MadMax said:

This isn’t a public event, though. The OP is explicitly posing this within High School. Most High Schools may be public institutions, but there are minors involved, and they are not public access. 

I can't speak for everywhere, but in my state, they explicitly are. With the permission you give to allow your child to play sports, part of that is that you recognize that this is a public event at which the public may attend, and there may be television, radio, online access, etc., and you can't keep them from using your child's picture, name, etc. (I don't remember the exact verbiage, but it's there). It's a state-wide form that you have to have on file to be eligible to play, both middle school and high school.

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Guest IamToast
20 minutes ago, MadMax said:

This isn’t a public event, though. The OP is explicitly posing this within High School. Most High Schools may be public institutions, but there are minors involved, and they are not public access. 

Not that I intended to use recordings of minors, what is wrong with having audio evidence of a minor's voice (misbehaving or not) ? Worst case, minor says something bad, insights a riot and I turn the recording over to the authorities, what am I liable for ? 

To those who contributed, I do appreciate the food for thought.

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8 hours ago, Guest IamToast said:

Not that I intended to use recordings of minors, what is wrong with having audio evidence of a minor's voice (misbehaving or not) ? Worst case, minor says something bad, insights a riot and I turn the recording over to the authorities, what am I liable for ? 

Depends on your state.

Not a minor, but let's use Linda Tripp for an example. While her recordings of Monica Lewinsky were evidence for a Federal investigation, she still committed a crime under Maryland law. She would have been indicted as such if not for an immunity agreement (which I personally feel was wrongly invoked in her lack of indictment, but that's neither here nor there.) 

If your jurisdiction does have legalities against this recording, you may have an issue.

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Our guest stated in his original post quite clearly (although parenthetically) that he lived in a state that required only one-party consent—“(my state has a one-party consent law).” That quote is from the first sentence of the second paragraph of the OP.

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5 hours ago, Matt said:

Not a minor, but let's use Linda Tripp for an example. While her recordings of Monica Lewinsky were evidence for a Federal investigation, she still committed a crime under Maryland law. She would have been indicted as such if not for an immunity agreement (which I personally feel was wrongly invoked in her lack of indictment, but that's neither here nor there.) 

Those were private conversations in a private location where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. (I'm not a lawyer, but I know that's one of the legal tests for whether or not recording is legal.)

A baseball field where media could be present, and teams may even record games for hudl or something similar, I would argue, is not. You *might* be able to make that argument for when teams confer, especially if they are holding their gloves in front of their faces.

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34 minutes ago, kylehutson said:

Those were private conversations in a private location where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. (I'm not a lawyer, but I know that's one of the legal tests for whether or not recording is legal.)

A baseball field where media could be present, and teams may even record games for hudl or something similar, I would argue, is not. You *might* be able to make that argument for when teams confer, especially if they are holding their gloves in front of their faces.

The issue is whether it is illegal by statute, which it was, and which the OP would be in any two-party state. There may or may not be an expectation of privacy (and you'd be paying to find out,) and there may be other issues of conscionability. If you can get your association/league to provide top cover, then you are at far less risk.

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18 minutes ago, Matt said:

The issue is whether it is illegal by statute, which it was, and which the OP would be in any two-party state.

Not necessarily. That's what I was saying. In a two-party state, it would not be illegal if there was no reasonable expectation of privacy.

20 minutes ago, Matt said:

(and you'd be paying to find out,)

Ah, but they would have to pay, too. In fact, they would have to pay *first* (since they would be the ones doing the suing). In the end, the lawyers always win.

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3 minutes ago, kylehutson said:

Not necessarily. That's what I was saying. In a two-party state, it would not be illegal if there was no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Ah, but they would have to pay, too. In fact, they would have to pay *first* (since they would be the ones doing the suing). In the end, the lawyers always win.

In law, don't care about what they have to do. Care about what you have to do.

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How about this... just ask your state association. If they ok it, inform everyone, both head coaches and your partner that you will be wearing a microphone. There is absolutely no reason to be secretive about it. In fact if I was your partner and you didn’t tell me you were wearing a microphone, it would immediately get you on my block list.

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I think it's unethical to do it without knowledge or consent.

In principle, if everyone knows about it, the act of mic'ing yourself up and recording would not be any different than the many parents who set up video cameras, or their phones, to record the games...whether for posterity, to show someone who couldn't be there, or for university applications.

But I think there's implied consent with the cameras and phones - it's out in the open and it's not like you can hide that you're doing it...most don't try.

The mic CAN be hidden (whether that's the intent or not), and it is possible to record a game without anyone suspecting.  And, it is now at a more intimate level (how often do you see video from the stands that doesn't pick up what is being said - just about all the time), making it different enough from video'ing a game to give it different consideration and scrutiny.

The legality is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned....at least, until it actually is illegal.

As a coach, I'd consent - I just think it's a little slimy to try to do it without anyone noticing.

 

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