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For some of you Baseball season is just kicking off. BUT... 

In many stated (VA & NC I know for sure) have just kicked off their HS Football seasons.

Is this going to create a strain on the already limited supply of officials in both sports out there? Many of the umpires I know also typically do football in the fall. With the seasons now overlapping are you seeing a bigger problem with the availability of officials?

Then for players, I know once upon a time when I was in HS, many people did football in the fall, wrestling or basketball in the winter and baseball or soccer in the spring. 

How is this effecting the number of athletes? Johnny now has to make a choice of being on the FB or BB team. I can see schools not being able to field a baseball team because some of their players chose to play football. 

OR... is the specialization in one sport year round going to mitigate that problem. 

What are your thoughts?

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Working solo:  Not the worst partner I've ever had.

Yeah, it is astounding that we have this in SoCal. Almost all of our sub-varsity games here in San Diego County are solo. Regular season youth ball is often solo, as well. Tournaments are usually 2 ma

Almost all underclass games here are solo.  And it becomes a self-perpetuating problem:  we don't have enough officials, so the games need to be solo, so the least experienced umpires work them with t

In OH, we're finishing up basketball, so BB is the only sport.  FB was played in the Fall. 

It won't affect us here, but I will say I have about 6-8 solos as of today.  I'm sure hoping they get filled in as the games get closer. 

My first year I did like 15-16 solo games.  That makes for a long year.

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In WV, winter sports and spring sports are going to overlap. I don't personally know how that will affect my board.  But, there is only 32 umpires (including 8 newbies) covering 26 schedules.  I know there are a few basketball refs and maybe 8 college baseball level ones in the board.  I might need to buy the wife some jewelry.

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Wisconsin alternate fall and delayed spring will overlap slightly by a few weeks, but there is no playoffs for alternate fall so I believe by early May overlap will be over.

 

But I know assigners are struggling.  Many officials are still opting out.  And the bigger issue is this is the second season where all of high school baseball is head to head with youth travel and softball.  So everyone is getting stretched really thin.

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In my neck of the woods, all Fall sports were delayed and pushed back until the state decided it was OK to begin. 

So currently Water Polo is happening. My kids team was able to get a whopping 8 game schedule with it about 1/2 way done so far.

Baseball starts in a week or so and I believe Football is also starting at the same time. I know several BB programs which scrapped their season due to dual sport athletes who chose FB over BB thus causing them to have too few players. We have a serious shortage of umpires already and that is being exacerbated by several of them also being on FB crews causing them to split their availability.

We also have officials opting out until vaccines are more prevalent, or until they can actually see how the game protocols are going to work. In our meetings there are a lot of 'we don't knows' and 'we'll have to figure that out' replies to questions being asked. It is great that the state is trying to get the kids on the fields, but it sucks that the road map is very unclear.

 

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On 3/11/2021 at 2:25 PM, cyclonehokiece said:

Many officials are still opting out.

 

On 3/11/2021 at 5:20 PM, Mudisfun said:

We also have officials opting out until vaccines are more prevalent,

That's another factor. So it's a bit of a triple whammy.

I doubt I'd be umpiring if I were still in the game for these reasons. Just like injuries from umpiring, I need to be able to go to my full time job and a risk of catching it would probably be enough for me to stay out, not to mention the possibility of bringing it home to my family. 

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PA, baseball starting on time.......for now.  Only problem is our numbers.  Our chapter covers 23 "conference" schools and a non-conference Christian school.  We have (I believe) 58 umpires.  I have 12 Varsity & 7 JV.  Of which, 2 of those JV are solo.

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11 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

PA, baseball starting on time.......for now.  Only problem is our numbers.  Our chapter covers 23 "conference" schools and a non-conference Christian school.  We have (I believe) 58 umpires.  I have 12 Varsity & 7 JV.  Of which, 2 of those JV are solo.

I'll be doing JV solos too.

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21 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

PA, baseball starting on time.......for now.  Only problem is our numbers.  Our chapter covers 23 "conference" schools and a non-conference Christian school.  We have (I believe) 58 umpires.  I have 12 Varsity & 7 JV.  Of which, 2 of those JV are solo.

All of our JV, with the exception of one league is Solo...  Must be nice to have being solo on a JV field be a novelty!

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1 hour ago, Mudisfun said:

All of our JV, with the exception of one league is Solo...  Must be nice to have being solo on a JV field be a novelty!

for game fee and a half.......I'll make due.

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6 minutes ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

for game fee and a half.......I'll make due.

Personally, I don't think I would accept a (known) one man JV game for 2 game fees. Doesn't pay enough to make that headache worth it.

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12 hours ago, Biscuit said:

Personally, I don't think I would accept a (known) one man JV game for 2 game fees. Doesn't pay enough to make that headache worth it.

I don't disagree, but the way Arbiter is I assume I'll get a partner until one isn't assigned. To keep on good terms with my assigner, I try to accept games quickly (within an hour of getting the notification) and that doesn't always let me know if I'm getting a partner or not.

I'm with AA though, you can only call what you can see.  There's holes in 2 man, so you can be sure there are more in 1 man.  I am drawing a line though, on 4/3 I'm supposed to do a JV triple-header and there's no partner yet - I will not do a TH by myself.  I've done DH and that's too much for 1 man when you're expected to be perfect all day.

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4 hours ago, wolfe_man said:

 I'm supposed to do a JV triple-header and there's no partner yet - I will not do a TH by myself.  I've done DH and that's too much for 1 man when you're expected to be perfect all day.

Couple years ago, pre-season I did 3 games solo... Game 1 at 8AM, game 2 which was scheduled (small tourney) for 11:30AM but started around 12:45-1PM and game 3 which was for 2pm but started around 3:30PM. Saturday starting temp for game 1 is +/- 70 degrees. Ending temp close to 76. Game 2, starting temp is close to 83... so it is warm and dry; you have to love February in So Cal.

Game one goes off fine, ends on time and I head over to the 2nd game. Get that game in, which went extra innings... one of the teams from game 2 advanced and was playing for game 3. The games were running late (roughly an 1.5 hours late, each) and both coaches, no kidding, almost as quickly as the 3rd out was recorded were walking up wanting to immediately start, because you know, after 10 innings I just did solo, I should, without so much as hitting the head, be ready to start another 7 inning +/- 2hr game. Told them I needed 25 minutes and that we would start at so and so time. Get this game going... around the 3rd or 4th inning the cramps start... and yes, I'm hydrating but 500-600 deep knee bends into the day, the body will only take so much...  Starts with fine motor muscles and then is starting to move to larger groups. 

By the time the game ends, I am worked, cramping all over and in pain. My drive home? My legs were cramping so bad that I was almost standing in the driver seat trying to keep my legs straight and my hamstrings from cramping. Shower, hydrate and laid on the bed for a couple hours fighting muscle cramps.

Bottom line? Three solo plate games in one day, basically back to back with no recovery time is a joke. Just don't do it.

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I don't doubt any of these stories, but I'm astounded by them.  I've heard all the stories about how we're losing officials in different sports, and I KNOW it's true, and I can see, in the different groups in which I work, it ain't getting any younger.

But the idea of doing games alone?  School games?  I'm gobsmacked by this.  I've never worked a school game solo, either in Virginia or Texas, and I'm in my 12th HS season.  And the oldest age-group I've done it for is LL Majors/Bronco (11-12) - and that's been the leagues in question were notorious being cheap, NOT because we didn't have the bodies for it.

I'm sorry to you guys that have to put up with that crap.

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Almost all underclass games here are solo.  And it becomes a self-perpetuating problem:  we don't have enough officials, so the games need to be solo, so the least experienced umpires work them with the least experienced coaches.  More mistakes are made, and the coaches argue incorrectly, so the umpires leave, which leads to a greater shortage.

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5 hours ago, noumpere said:

Almost all underclass games here are solo.  And it becomes a self-perpetuating problem:  we don't have enough officials, so the games need to be solo, so the least experienced umpires work them with the least experienced coaches.  More mistakes are made, and the coaches argue incorrectly, so the umpires leave, which leads to a greater shortage.

Yes to this - a thousand times yes! It’s so true!

My first year I did 14 solo JV games. Sometimes they were DH with 20 minutes of “rest” between them. I thought about quitting so many times. No help, no feedback, no training, no learning - just going through a meat grinder every game.

I’m in year 6 now and have had no formal reviews/assessments by my association. I did get some feedback from another association while they were doing their guy on the plate. They didn’t like me not using the pivot (I employed the over-the-shoulder peek instead on no-doubt doubles), but said I looked sharp and moved well.  
 

I still average 4-5 solos a year. Thankfully, I’ve stayed with it and moved up. Varsity always gets both umpires. But anything below and it’s a gamble if you’ll be flying solo or not. I guess I’m not just wolfe_man but The Lone Wolfe too!

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7 hours ago, HokieUmp said:

I don't doubt any of these stories, but I'm astounded by them.  I've heard all the stories about how we're losing officials in different sports, and I KNOW it's true, and I can see, in the different groups in which I work, it ain't getting any younger.

But the idea of doing games alone?  School games?  I'm gobsmacked by this.  I've never worked a school game solo, either in Virginia or Texas, and I'm in my 12th HS season.  And the oldest age-group I've done it for is LL Majors/Bronco (11-12) - and that's been the leagues in question were notorious being cheap, NOT because we didn't have the bodies for it.

I'm sorry to you guys that have to put up with that crap.

Yeah, it is astounding that we have this in SoCal. Almost all of our sub-varsity games here in San Diego County are solo. Regular season youth ball is often solo, as well. Tournaments are usually 2 man. What's funny though, is all my volunteer LL games are always 2-3, or 4 man. I have 2 games on Saturday, one 3 man, and one 4 man. I generally refuse to do any paid games solo, never a chance in hell to do volunteer solo.

This is what gets me, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, and I'm sure it's that way in other areas with a high cost of living. Organizations are squawking about not having enough umpires, or not being able to attract quality umpires, but yet refuse to pay anything remotely close to market wages. How the hell are you supposed to attract anyone with these poverty wages? Oh, shame on me I forgot the incentives. Buy expensive equipment, often drive long distances, and have the pleasure of getting yelled at by fans and coaches. By golly, if those aren't great incentives, I don't know what are. Amazing people aren't flocking to this hobby.

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On 3/19/2021 at 5:22 PM, wolfe_man said:

Yes to this - a thousand times yes! It’s so true!

My first year I did 14 solo JV games. Sometimes they were DH with 20 minutes of “rest” between them. I thought about quitting so many times. No help, no feedback, no training, no learning - just going through a meat grinder every game.

I’m in year 6 now and have had no formal reviews/assessments by my association. I did get some feedback from another association while they were doing their guy on the plate. They didn’t like me not using the pivot (I employed the over-the-shoulder peek instead on no-doubt doubles), but said I looked sharp and moved well.  
 

I still average 4-5 solos a year. Thankfully, I’ve stayed with it and moved up. Varsity always gets both umpires. But anything below and it’s a gamble if you’ll be flying solo or not. I guess I’m not just wolfe_man but The Lone Wolfe too!

Always amazing to me to see how many guys are forced to call solo. Here in TX we have at least 2 men for any HS level game. I worked some solo in youth ball super early in my career, but never at the HS level.

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On 3/19/2021 at 4:11 PM, JonnyCat said:

 What's funny though, is all my volunteer LL games are always 2-3, or 4 man. I have 2 games on Saturday, one 3 man, and one 4 man.

This is what gets me, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, and I'm sure it's that way in other areas with a high cost of living. Organizations are squawking about not having enough umpires, or not being able to attract quality umpires, but yet refuse to pay anything remotely close to market wages. How the hell are you supposed to attract anyone with these poverty wages? Oh, shame on me I forgot the incentives. Buy expensive equipment, often drive long distances, and have the pleasure of getting yelled at by fans and coaches. By golly, if those aren't great incentives, I don't know what are. Amazing people aren't flocking to this hobby.

Same here in my neck of the woods... but the issue is not the Umpires... I can on almost any day put out on our LL message board that I'm work a game 2 man, or even 3 man and just state that we would love to work with an extra umpire. My inbox will flood almost immediately with guys wanting to come out and play...

The issue is the leagues which think they are saving somehow... I would much rather work a 7 inning Pony, JV or Travel game 2 man @ $50-$55 an official than work that same game solo @$60-$70. So much easier on the officials, better for the players and better for the coaches. So many of their arguments would go away... and don't forget the mentoring opportunities for the officials as invariably one of the umpires is going to be more experienced and can actually provide some feedback. 

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1 hour ago, Mudisfun said:

Same here in my neck of the woods... but the issue is not the Umpires... I can on almost any day put out on our LL message board that I'm work a game 2 man, or even 3 man and just state that we would love to work with an extra umpire. My inbox will flood almost immediately with guys wanting to come out and play...

Yep, I haven't done a LL game solo in over 10 years, haven't had to. Most of our tournament games are 4 man, too.

You're  right, the problem is not usually with the umpires, but can be. It's mostly on the organizations, and specifically with the standards. There should never be an expectation for single umpires, ever. The standard should always be assigning 2 umpires, and if there is only one umpire available, the standard should be to not accept that game. But as we all know, many umpires would gladly take the money and work solo, so what's the incentive for HS associations to change? I won't do it, period. If that means I don't work as many games, so be it. It's an enjoyable hobby first, and money second. My job is pretty physical at times, coupled with the fact I'm in my late 50's, I'm not running around a 90' diamond by myself for a lousy 80 bucks and potentially some abuse. 

We as umpires need to demand higher wages, and a 2 person crew at all games. The organizations can pony up the extra fees. Unfortunately, it's those same organizations that don't want to pay, that are the ones crying about lack of officials and quality. They reap what they sow. Eff them.

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6 hours ago, Mudisfun said:

Same here in my neck of the woods... but the issue is not the Umpires... I can on almost any day put out on our LL message board that I'm work a game 2 man, or even 3 man and just state that we would love to work with an extra umpire. My inbox will flood almost immediately with guys wanting to come out and play...

The issue is the leagues which think they are saving somehow... I would much rather work a 7 inning Pony, JV or Travel game 2 man @ $50-$55 an official than work that same game solo @$60-$70. So much easier on the officials, better for the players and better for the coaches. So many of their arguments would go away... and don't forget the mentoring opportunities for the officials as invariably one of the umpires is going to be more experienced and can actually provide some feedback. 

I’ll take the other side here. I can work an in-house pony, JV, or travel game - say 13U and under - by myself and would rather get paid more for my time than take the help.

 

As an aside, so many of these tournaments promote 2 umpires for every game, but there are coverage issues with games everywhere every weekend. Rather than throwing 2 guys on a 12U game at 50ish per game, pay 75/game to one umpire. I’ll come do a DH, get 3 games for doing 2 in this scenario, and the tournament and teams just saved $50 total over two games. Everyone wins. I can’t remember the last time I really needed help on a call on a small diamond. 
 

If you want to put two umpires on semis and championship, fine. But some of these tournaments are overkill with two umpires. I don’t do much that’s not on a 60/90 field anymore, but I’d be more into doing 10-13U if they cut it to solo and paid more. I think you’d have more good guys willing to come grab a DH. 
 

(Good) 14U and anything 15U up that’s travel or just generally good baseball, definitely get two umpires out there. 

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