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After effects of COVID-19 on officiating


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21 hours ago, mw94 said:

The governor of AZ just cancelled school for the rest of the year. High School baseball in   AZ  is cancelled 

Waiting for the hammer to fall here in SoCAl.

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In addition to this, NJSIAA is carrying over this year’s dues and fees to next year.

...............thinking of @MadMax and his vultures.......

My grandfather started umpiring in 1926. I am the last in the line and intend on umpiring through at least 2026, when I will be 69...and beyond

On 3/30/2020 at 9:28 AM, Thunderheads said:

My first scheduled game now is 4/15.   Here in MI, we're waiting for the 'other shoe to drop' ....  we hope not, but ....most are expecting it.

My first Spring game is presently April 20 and my schedule has been slowly filling through May. The optimist in me is pleased, but the realist in me wonders if or when these games might be canceled should our governor declare school out for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year.

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You know, I'm reading and re-reading the title of this thread – "After Effects of COVID-19 on Officiating" – and it suddenly struck me... if, at the end of this, they require us (as officials) to take any additional training or certification on something so obscure and irrelevant to the game, such as... oh, I don't know... "Recognition and Addressing of Infectious Diseases" (RAID) or "Special Training of Umpires for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases" (STUPID), I'll know we, as a sports culture, have jumped the shark.

It's not us who are spreading diseases during games! Hey coaches (and players, as you'll see in other sports *cough cough soccer! cough cough*)... stop comin' out to talk to us, stop gettin' in our face, stop touchin' us, stop huffin' and puffin', stop breathin' on us, stop spittin' on us (soccer!), and doubly sure now... don't be touchin' us!

Congruently, if I've now gotta add more to my Plate Meeting with "Are all players legally and properly equipped? Are all players and coaches cleared on potential transmission of an infectious disease?" (watch, @Richvee, @Kevin_K and the rest of you Jersey Boys, New Jersey will add it, just cuz their mandatory Plate Meeting is already excruciatingly long), I'mma gonna lose it.

I think, of all the sports, the two that harbor the most potential for us (as officials) to get exposed to aerosol disease transmission are wrestling... and soccer (again, because players love to get in referee's faces and potentially spit on them; if you think I'm exaggerating, you haven't watched a Latin American or South European (think Italy) match). I'd include boxing / MMA if any of us here (umpire-empire) actually did officiate those two. Notice, though, curiously... boxing and MMA referees do wear sanitary gloves during a match, primarily because of the risk of blood & fluid -borne pathogens. Now, I don't think we need those for baseball; yeah, there were all these knee-jerk outcries of "well, that pitcher is going to be licking his fingers and then touching the ball!", but really... as scientists and virologists have pointed out, the virus itself is rather fragile. UV light (baseball is played outside), high temperatures (above around 50-55º), dry conditions all destroy it. It can live, undisturbed, on most fabrics between 3-4 hours. Copper (because it is a natural antiseptic metal) and wood (because it dehydrates the viral molecule, causing it to disintegrate) are the best of the rigid materials. Cardboard does poorly at retention, harboring the intact molecules for around 24 hours. Metals (other than copper) fare worse, at upwards of 40 hours. Worse still – and incredibly incriminating of how overly dependent we as a culture are on artificiality – plastics can harbor the intact viral molecule for 72 hours.

So, as a point of levity... wood bats do have an advantage over metal bats! Ha!

"The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars.  They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness.  Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster." – This is why I have been so optimistic for those of us living in the southwest USA, and for baseball. Sure, we have a lot of air conditioning in Arizona; the state would be nearly untenable if we didn't. But, for those of us who are outside, in the sunshine, in the heat, in the dryness of a/the desert, we're at an exceptional, realistic low chance of being exposed and/or receiving the virus.

Sitting in an office job, tapping away on a keyboard in a cubicle / workstation farm, or routinely hovering over a smartphone or tablet is actually at a much higher risk. Am I slamming anybody who has a job like that? No. Am I wishing ill upon them? No. But certainly, the sports official job that you folks look down your noses at, deride, and scoff at is actually more beneficial to one's health and fitness, and puts us in a better... shall we say... position?

To bring this back to sports officiating, despite the indeterminate interruption of the sports we officiate, I don't think COVID-19 is going to affect sports officiating itself. What will be more damaging, and indeed is already compounding the problem, is if we continue to set up more restrictions, more compulsory "certifications", and more discriminations ("too old", "too short", "too much style", "too quick") – and increase the costs associated with them – we will undoubtedly see more and more potential officials, at all levels, opt out.

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@MadMax, I look forward to finding out what will happen. You mentioned wrestling as a sport that puts officials at the highest risk for transmission of aerosol disease. And as someone who has been around wrestling for a number of years as an athlete, coach, and official, I think there may be some credibility to your presumption that officials will begin to take on extra responsibilities to prevent transmission.
 

Weestling not only puts officials at risk it puts all contestants at risk of disease. (I’m talking major skin infections). Correct me if I’m wrong but to my knowledge wrestling is the only sport with rules pertaining to disqualification of participants based on health. Before every match each wrestler is put through a screening to check for any infections(this responsibility rests on the officials). However there are major limitations, as an official the only thing I can really do is spot something “that looks suspicious.” It’s along the same lines as concussions and how officials can look for “signs and symptoms.”  

So once I spot something “suspicious” the athlete is sent to the athletic trainer who will determine final eligibility. And this is no joke, I’ve seen wrestlers who should have gone on to win state titles get disqualified the morning of placing day of the tournament because something popped up overnight and they didn’t pass their skin check. 
 

So my point is, while officials being involved in health screening is not unprecedented, I see some issues with giving extra training regarding diseases such as COVID-19. 
 

1. The newness. Ringworm and Staph infections have been around forever and are easy to spot from a mile away for anyone who has been around wrestling for a good amount of time yet officials are still pretty limited. So if the authority of officials is limited when it comes to that, then something so new would be impossible to train on, especially when there’s still so much for the professionals to learn about it. 

2. The methodology. Skin diseases are easy to look for, but how would you check to see that everyone is in good health before playing a baseball or football game? Line everyone up and first kid to cough is out? When someone really wants to play they’ll hold in that cough until they’re back in the dugout, ive seen people do much worse, (taking a belt sander to the face to coverup their infection).  
 

3. The time. Wrestling has the benefit of years when it comes to checking for infectious diseases. Weigh-ins and skin checks are practically synonymous at this point. What I mean by this is that as a wrestling official, I have to show up at least 3 hours early to an event to allow time to conduct a skin check and allow ample time between wrestlers weighing-in and competing. So I understand that the time commitment is huge and so do the coaches, a lot of them provide me with a meal during the down time. But this understanding has been developed over decades. On top of that, wrestling time frames are different, JV usually competes at 5 and varsity at 7. Baseball is lucky to get officials there early enough to start the game on time at 3. If they had to show up any earlier they would lose their other job. And if the games started later it would be an even tighter race with the sun. 
 

So while your fear of extra training and regulations is not unprecedented I think that if it does occur it will be years in the making. I say this because I unfortunately do not believe the honor system will work so sadly it would be much worse than “Coach, are all your players in good health and free of any infectious diseases?”

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11 hours ago, StatsUmp said:

My first Spring game is presently April 20 and my schedule has been slowly filling through May. The optimist in me is pleased, but the realist in me wonders if or when these games might be canceled should our governor declare school out for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year.

As of yesterday, .......rumor is it's happening this week, they're just fine-tuning the details :sad:

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Today: NJ (NJSIAA) "doubled-down on its stance of a desire to play spring sports in some capacity this season — even if that meant extending the season — though it acknowledged that obstacles could ultimately prevent pushing the season beyond June."

https://www.nj.com/highschoolsports/2020/04/njsiaa-is-discussing-extending-the-hs-sports-season-if-thats-what-is-required.html

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Illinois schools are closed through April 30, and the IHSA is holding out the remotest of hope.  At least they recognize any delay beyond that will mean the season is done.

 

https://www.ihsa.org/default.asp
 

Quote

Even though Illinois schools will remain closed through April 30th following the March 31st announcement by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, we remain optimistic that a May 1 return to school, followed by a to-be-determined acclimatization practice period, can still result in a truncated spring season that culminates with IHSA State Series tournaments and the crowning of state champions in June. 

In its discussions thus far, the IHSA Board of Directors has been highly supportive of creating an exemption to the IHSA Season Limitation By-law to allow spring sports to play into late June, but competing into or beyond July is not being considered at this time.

We are also realistic in recognizing that any further school postponements, or the cessation of physical school attendance for the remainder of the year, will almost certainly result in the cancellation of all remaining IHSA sports and activities this school year.
 


That said ... it is likely that I have already worked my last game here.

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23 hours ago, The Short Umpire said:

So while your fear of extra training and regulations is not unprecedented...

It's not a fear, so much as it is an observation of history.

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On 4/1/2020 at 9:20 PM, rcjhyman said:

Today: NJ (NJSIAA) "doubled-down on its stance of a desire to play spring sports in some capacity this season — even if that meant extending the season — though it acknowledged that obstacles could ultimately prevent pushing the season beyond June."

https://www.nj.com/highschoolsports/2020/04/njsiaa-is-discussing-extending-the-hs-sports-season-if-thats-what-is-required.html

In addition to this, NJSIAA is carrying over this year’s dues and fees to next year.

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10 hours ago, LMSANS said:

In addition to this, NJSIAA is carrying over this year’s dues and fees to next year.

That is an impressive move; much different than the NCAA's no refund but give you 25% off next year.  Thought it was practically a slap in the face myself.  

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1 hour ago, zoops said:

That is an impressive move; much different than the NCAA's no refund but give you 25% off next year.  Thought it was practically a slap in the face myself.  

It’s not a slap in the face at all...

Did you complete the 2020 online NCAA Meeting/Clinic?

Did you receive your 2020 CCA Manual?

Did you receive your 2020 NCAA Rule Book?

Did you submit to your post-season background check?

Did you take the 2020 NCAA test?

Do you still have access to the NCAA Arbiter Central Hub? They are still posting videos and information even though the season is done.

If so, the NCAA fulfilled their obligations for your dues for 2020. The NCAA offering a discount for next year is an incredible gesture.

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12 hours ago, LMSANS said:

In addition to this, NJSIAA is carrying over this year’s dues and fees to next year.

Here is the email I received from my association...

Good morning, hoping you and your loved ones are well and stay well. 

At last night’s Board meeting, held via phone, the Board unanimously approved a Dues Holiday for the 2022 season in consideration of the apparent cancellation of the 2020 season.

Effectively, your 2021 SUA dues will be carried forward to cover the dues payable for the 2022 season. 

Please recall that the SUA collects dues a year in advance of the current season; the dues being collected now are for the 2021 season and if you have already registered and paid those dues – thank you.  If your 2021 SUA dues and registration are still pending please complete the process as normal by May 1, 2020. 

In January 2021, as usual, you will receive a 2022 Registration and Release Notice via email and those materials will also be included in your “package” for the 2021 season.

 NO SUA DUES WILL BE COLLECTED WITH THE 2022 REGISTRATION AND RELEASE. 

Additionally, the NJSIAA has also adopted a policy that, if they are forced to cancel the 2020 Spring season they will apply those fees to the 2021 season, if you have registered and paid the Registration and Back ground check fees for the 2020 season.   

Please read the NJSIAA Officials Update attached regarding the fees as well as the update on the move from Arbiter to ZebraWeb. not attached.

 

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@MidAmUmp  Totally understand your stance.  It just rubs me the wrong way that a good portion of their umpires never got a chance to do a game and are losing out on significant income and this is the most they can do (A ~$35 discount on an already overpriced membership).  They are a multi-billion dollar organization, although I understand they are probably losing significant money as well.  Heck, my small-time health club is even waving membership fees during this time.  

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1 hour ago, zoops said:

@MidAmUmp  Totally understand your stance.  It just rubs me the wrong way that a good portion of their umpires never got a chance to do a game and are losing out on significant income and this is the most they can do (A ~$35 discount on an already overpriced membership).  They are a multi-billion dollar organization, although I understand they are probably losing significant money as well.  Heck, my small-time health club is even waving membership fees during this time.  

I’m not going to continue to argue the point but I’ll say this...

Your argument would hold much more water if you took it up with your supervisors or assigners than the NCAA. You say “a good portion of their umpires never got a chance to do a game”. The truer statement is ALL of “their umpires” didn’t get a chance to work a game because the NCAA itself doesn’t assign any regular season games.

The NCAA’s obligation is to prepare college umpires for the season and provide them with information and guidance throughout the year. Yes, that costs money. Shipping alone for probably 3000+ CCA manuals and rule books has to be extremely costly. The technology behind an online meeting/clinic, video editing/publishing, rules testing, etc is also very expensive.

Now, for the argument that a good portion of umpires didn’t get a chance to work...

The season for D2 and D3 started January 31. I live in Missouri (not the most accommodating climate for February baseball) and worked 25 games prior to everyone closing up shop. It is no one’s fault that umpires who live in a geographically challenging area didn’t get a chance to work. I know umpires in Minnesota who haven’t worked until May in the past few years. They haven’t asked for refunds of their NCAA fees. It’s the luck of the draw. 

We can only control what we can control...

Don't like your schedule? Control what you can to change it. Go to a clinic and get better/get exposure. What is your availability? Can you work at noon on Tuesday or are you only a weekend warrior? Can you travel or do you have to stay close to home?

Look, I think we should be playing baseball right now. I think this thing has been blown out of proportion. I’ve personally lost $25,000 this spring. But it’s not the NCAA’s fault and the NCAA doesn’t owe any of us any sort of refund. Would it be nice if the conference’s stepped up and provided some financial relief? Yes...but not the NCAA. 

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"I think this thing has been blown out of proportion."

As of this morning (4/4), 1.1 million cases and 60,000 deaths around the world; in the US, more than 275,000 COVID-19 cases and 7,100 deaths; numbers continue to rise and there is no relief or end in sight.

 

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Since several feathers have been ruffled, I want to clarify something...maybe I could have worded my last post better yesterday, but at no point did I make reference to the impact of the virus being blown out of proportion. What I was attempting to state was - I think we should be playing baseball, but that’s out of my hands. What I believe that has been blown out of proportion is umpires complaining about the situation. I thought that was the point I was making. My entire post was about how I do not believe the NCAA owes anyone anything.

Again, maybe I could have done a better job in how I worded that.

Now that I’ve hopefully cleared that up for everyone, I’m done.

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