Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Assaults on Umpires: A Statewide Survey

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Assaults on Umpires: A Statewide Survey

Article excerpt

Investigators mailed surveys containing questions about assaults on umpires to 1500 members of randomly selected umpire associations. Surveys were returned by 782 umpires. Their average age was 43 years, and their average umpiring experience was 13.6 years. Eighty-four umpires reported they had been assaulted at some time during their careers. While most of the assaults (44%) were minor, such as pushing or grabbing, many (43%) were more serious, such as choking or hitting with a bat. In baseball competition, proportionally more coaches than players carried out the assaults; in softball proportionally more players were involved. There was also evidence that alcohol consumption was a factor in some softball assaults. Unsolicited responses suggest that the consequences for assaulting umpires are inconsistent, only occasionally involve the legal system and most frequently involve suspension from competition. It is concluded that these assaults are frequent enough and often serious enough to warrant organize concern. However, there is a need to replicate the study in other settings and to assess the consequences of umpire assaults more directly.

Un sondage par questionnaire sur les attaques sur les arbitres a ete effectue parmi 1500 membres choisis au hasard a travers les associations d'arbitres. Sep cent quatre-vingt-deux arbitres y ont repondu. Leur age moyen etait de 43 ans avec 13.6 annees d'esperience. Quatre-vingt-quatre arbitres ont temoigne avoir ete assaillis pendant leur carriere. Alors que la plupart des attaques s'averaient insignifiantes (44%) et consistaient a etre pousses ou accroches au passage, d'autres (43%) s'averaient plus serieuses et consistaient a etre saisi a la gorge, etouffes ou frappes avec un baton de baseball. Dans les competition de baseball, proportionnellement parlant, plus d'entraineurs que de joueurs initiaient ces attaques; en softball, toujours proportionnellement parlant, e'etatit les joueurs. De plus, dans le cas du softball, il y avait egalement de preuves qui attestaient que la consommation d'alcool jouait un role important dans ces attaques. Des reponses tout a fait spontanees faisaient croire que pou ce genre d'attaques, les consequences qui s'ensuivaient n'etaient pas clairemen etablies; on ne faisait qu'exceptionnellement appel a la justice, et le plus souvent les consequences consistaient uniquement en une suspension de participation aux jeux. En conclusion, ce sondage a prouve que les attaques sur les arbitres sont assez frequentes et assez violentes pour qu'on les prenne au serieux. Cependant il est necessaire de refaire cette etude des attaques sur le arbitres dans d'autres situations afin d'evaluer les consequences qui s'ensuivent d'une maniere plus directe.

As Voight (1970) pointed out, the practice of harassing umpires began in the baseball games of the 19th century. Today, reports ot serious conflicts with umpires continue to appear, even conflicts involving assaults. For example, in the state of Washington a little league coach assaulted an umpire with an aluminum baseball bat (Coach Gets Year in Jail, 1991), and in Illinois a coach was arrested for firing a handgun after he had been ejected from a game by the umpire (Mano, 1991). Legal action against those who assault umpires is becoming more common. Indeed, Narol (1986) has provided guidelines for legal recourse in an article entitled "Taking the Offensive Against Assaults" in the officials' magazine Referee.

Despite the seriousness of such incidents, very little research has been conducted to examine the incidence, nature, and causes of violence against umpires. Rainey and Cherilla (1993) reported an observational study about the conflict experienced by umpires in high school and adult sandlot baseball competition. They documented a steady flow of low intensity arguments and complaints by players and coaches. This behavior seemed to have the primary purpose ot attempting to "work" the umpires (ie. to obtain a tactical advantage by influencing later calls). …

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