Amateur baseball umpires are officially tops

SIDELINES

January 20, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

We all know officials don't have an easy job. Have you ever thought which of our high school groups does the best job?

Using the David Letterman top 10 method, I've listed the best high school sports officials. The rating is based on performance, judgment, knowledge of the rules and game, hustle, dress and overall professionalism.

The top 10 is headed by the most professional of the lot, the Anne Arundel baseball umpires. The list was developed after consultation with several coaches and athletic directors, observation and fan input.

If you agree or disagree, please give me a call on my 24-Hour Sportsline, (410) 647-2499.

Top 10 of Anne Arundel County High School Sports Officials:

* 1. Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Umpires Association -- truly the most professional and most caring group of any, not only in high school baseball but also in summer baseball.

* 2. Wrestling officials -- extremely professional.

* 3. Football officials -- not far from wrestling.

* 4. Boys basketball, Board 23 -- not far from the top, either.

* 5. Gymnastics officials.

* 6. Softball officials.

* 7. Volleyball officials.

* 8. Boys soccer officials.

* 9. Girls soccer officials.

* 10. Boys lacrosse officials.

As for the group that seems to draw the most complaints, it's the girls basketball officials, hands down.

Complaints about this group have raged for a few years, and this year is no different, but just maybe better communication with coaches and athletic directors could alleviate some of the discord.

And a lot of the discord is created by overbearing attitudes taken on by some of the girls officials. Maybe they need to realize that they actually do make mistakes that can be righted if only they would be willing to listen more to the coaches.

Our country's new president is on record as saying he will make mistakes because he's willing to try things.

I constantly hear gripes about girls basketball officials from coaches and fans, and last Tuesday at Arundel High, there were a lot of unhappy campers after an Annapolis girl apparently hit a game-winning three-pointer seconds after the buzzer had sounded. The game film clearly shows that she was dribbling the ball when the buzzer went off.

To make a bad situation worse, the officials took on an arrogant attitude afterward. Getting the call right should be a good official's goal.

That's how you gain respect from the coaches. Yet, some officials just don't get it.

"I don't want my name mentioned because that group [girls basketball refs] holds a grudge and it wouldn't be fair to my kids, but they don't think we are supposed to complain about anything," said one coach.

A coach has a right to argue for his team and until officials are deemed infallible, that right will always be there.

The girls basketball officials receive $36 per game. I think the coaches have done an excellent job in building the girls basketball program to one of the best in the metro area, but the officiating leaves a lot to be desired.

It has filtered down to the JV level, where games are lasting so long because of an inordinate number of whistles that administrators are suggesting shortening the eight-minute periods to six.

The lengthy JV girls basketball games have created a rash of late starts for boys games, which are the last of tripleheaders. The JV girls games generally start at 3:15 or 3:30 p.m., followed by the varsity girls and varsity boys.

So, when the girls JV runs over, everything else follows suit.

"Each of our officials' groups has its own problems, and I'm not sure we understand each other's problems," said Old Mill's athletic director Jim Dillon.

"I think our athletic directors as a whole need to communicate with the commissioners of the officials groups and discuss our concerns. In some cases, we are not getting new and younger officials in some of our groups and this is a major concern."

Dillon said he feels the overall dissenting climate among fans and parents may be contributing to the lack of young people wanting to get into officiating.

"You have to ask yourself, if you are right out of college, would you want to officiate and take the abuse some officials have to take?" Dillon asked.

I say use the baseball umpires as a model. Here is a group of veterans who constantly are seeking and adding younger officials. In the Anne Arundel Umpires Association, the veterans show the way for the rookies, and the result is a group whose sole purpose is to give 100 percent for the sake of the kids.

Dillon's idea of bringing the commissioners together to discuss each other's concerns is a good one, and I think county umpire-in-chief Jack Kramp ought to be brought in to explain how his organization operates with so few complaints and many, many compliments.

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