Neutral Umpires

Discussion in 'Game Management & Communication' started by aussieump, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. aussieump

    aussieump FHF All Time Great
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    With the term Neutral Umpires does this bring connotations for club umpires. As surely I would consider all umpires to be neutral or unbiased as required under the code of conduct as an official.

    To me by classing appointed umpires as neutral does it create a side issue for club umpires as it begins by saying they are not neutral.

    What are other thoughts on this

    AU
     
  2. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

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    When you are a 'club umpire', you cannot, IMO, be completely 'neutral'....it's nnatural that you want 'your club' to win.
    However, you can and must strive to be 'unbiased'....my club-mates occasionally said (in the bar/car) that I went a bit far, by being slightly harder on them than on the opposition ;)
    I just used too say "Yes, I just know you b*ggers too well...I can read your intentions like a book...they get the benefit of the doubt!"
     
  3. Diligent

    Diligent FHF All Time Great
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    Although a cynic might suggest that a non-neutral umpire is biased, many league regulations require umpires to be qualified in some way, such as Level 1 Umpire. This carries the counter implication that, even though the umpire is a member of one side's club, the qualification says that they will take a professional approach to their craft, and not be biased.

    'Neutral' is a nice, short, and (dare I say?) neutral word.

    We could, and do, say 'appointed', short for 'appointed by the association', but of course if the association does not appoint, then it's 'appointed by the club'. Hardly the distinction we are searching for.

    How about 'independent'? But then we are back to the implication that club umpires are not independent, and the cynics again suggest they are biased...

    Nah! 'Neutral' is fine. Unless someone can suggest another term? ???
     
  4. aussieump

    aussieump FHF All Time Great
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    I am currently watching the Rugby World Cup final live and this was brought up by the commentary team.

    For thos interested Aus 16 New Zealand 12 half time
     
  5. UmpireHockey.com

    UmpireHockey.com FHF All Time Great

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    We don't use the term neutral with regard to umpires. I would argue that "umpire" means "neutral".

    We do use the term "neutral". Teams will play at a neutral site.

    An umpire we would say "has an appointment" or "an assignment" but, the umpires are simply, the umpires (and they damn well better be neutral).

    But, speaking of "neutral" and what it does and doesn't mean with regard to officiating a fair, unbiased game, try this one on for size.

    In New Jersey, there is a traditional fall playing season between member schools of an organization of high schools.

    At the end of the season the governing body of these schools plays a tournament to determine the best school team in New Jersey. Fair enough. But, what the organization does is ask the schools to submit a list of the umpires they had during the season that they would PREFER to have during the tournament. So, what happens, when the teams travel to a neutral site, they "bring" their preferred umpire!

    Imagine the position this puts an umpire in, knowing that they are officiating the RED team versus the BLUE team because they are the RED team's preferred umpire.

    Further, imagine the regular season conduct of the umpires who have aspirations of officiating in tournament games.

    Becoming the a team's PREFERRED umpire is based on the officiating decisions you make during the season. So, if it looks like the RED team could go all the way, might that impact how the umpire officiates?

    God forbid that the umpire cards the players or worse the coach (in games between high school rules a special rule set is used in the USA, the coach can be green, yellow, and red carded).

    Anyway, so, let's say you're on the RED team's preferred list and you get appointed to the tournament. Bad news, many believe that means you're officiating "for" the RED team.

    I've actually heard coaches complain to "their" umpire that the other umpire is calling "for" the other team so "you have to start giving some make up calls!" (All different meaning to "make up calls".)

    Just as bad in this already horrible scenario is that there are about a half dozen umpire organizations in New Jersey, responsible for training the umpires BUT the team's governing body doesn't ask those organizations to provide it with a list of umpires that the organizations prefer to be officiating in the tournament.

    Now, do umpires ACTUALLY officiate FOR a team -- showing any bias in their decisions? I'd say NO but, the process carries the appearance of a possible conflict of interest and, I think, puts the umpires in an untenable position.

    Worse, as I kind of suggested, I think the system dumbs down the officiating that takes place during the season and, let's face it, gives coaches credentials in something most have no training or certification in --- [1] officiating and [2] assessing the performance of people who actually are trained and certified umpires.

    Old joke, "How do you address an umpire who has never read the rules?"

    "Hello Coach."

    :(

    The whole idea of having coaches submit a preferred list of umpires is on its face an "un-preferred" start to a tournament (and so unnecessary).

    Yuck...Cris
     
  6. g9

    g9 FHF Legend

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    I don't see anything wrong with nominating from our areas to umpire at States; we just did this and recommending umpires was never a matter of thinking umpires would rule our way...believe it or not, we coaches would rather win in a fair and challenging contest than a game that's been handed over by one-sided umpiring decisions!  In fact two of the umpires nominated from our area gave my team a red and 2 yellows in situations that I would call iffy and biased, but hey...we agree to disagree and we still think they are the best from this area, so on they went to States.  But just like the State tournament is supposed to bring together the best teams from all regions, it should showcase the best umpires from those regions and districts as well.

    In the end, we had umpires from all over and no one complained...we made it to the State final and it was a great ride, very much owing to the neutrality and professionalism of the umpires and the fact that others have recognized that they were the best ones to be there.  No "buying" of umpires loyalties, but just good hockey and we coaches appreciated the stellar efforts of those out there working the games, no matter where they came from!
     
  7. keely

    keely FHF Legend

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    Speaking of "yuck", this is exactly everything that's wrong with the relationship between umpires and coaches and I'm very sorry to hear of such a negative view towards coaches' input into umpiring performance.

    Everywhere else I go, there are cries to open up assessment and appointment to the coaches and wrest at least some of the power away from the umpiring committees, which are usually entirely made up of older, retired umpires. Why are their opinions so valuable they obliterate those who are actively shaping and participating in the game that we serve?

    Still, this is nothing but a red herring that doesn't contribute to the original question, which if I understand AU's original post, is whether umpires be placed on matches where they have some kind of affiliation with one side since it's already their job to be neutral?

    The answer, very simply, is no. Neutrality is more than just the lack of existence of bias, it's the absence of any reasonable apprehension of bias. In absolutely every field where parties submit themselves to be bound by the decisions of a third party - everything from legal proceedings to officiating - the higher the stakes, the more importance is placed on removing any chance that decisions could appear to be influenced by the decision-makers present or past affiliations.

    Arguing that naming some umpires as "Neutral Umpires" makes the rest somehow appear to be less than neutral makes as much sense as refusing to attend a sexual harassment education seminar because it implies that you are a harasser. It simply assures the observers that there are no affiliations present that could be perceived to influence a decision.
     
  8. UmpireHockey.com

    UmpireHockey.com FHF All Time Great

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    Not sure I understand. If your assessment of AU's original post is correct, and I think it is, how wouldn't umpires placed on matches via a coach informing the tournament assigner of the coach's favorite umpires WHEN one team essentially brings "their" umpire apply? It seems that THAT creates "some kind of affiliation" with one side.

    Agreed. I think tournament appointments would do well to be a mix. That's why I mentioned the following about the tournament organizers, "Just as bad in this already horrible scenario is that there are about a half dozen umpire organizations in New Jersey, responsible for training the umpires BUT the team's governing body doesn't ask those organizations to provide it with a list of umpires that the organizations prefer to be officiating in the tournament."

    That said, I haven't met any coach, nor do I think there are any, who are not in a bias position relative to the calls made during a game they are coaching....myself among them. They have a direct affiliation. One that would make their evaluation of umpires subject to a conflict of interest.

    Having said that, when I was an assigner in my area I provided an opportunity for coaches to submit anonymous umpire evaluations because, I figured, over time they would be completing about as many evaluations after wins as losses. Still, I would be mindful whether the coaches had any certifications -- as coaches or as umpires -- and the overwhelming number of coaches here have no training (let alone certifications) -- as coaches or umpires.

    All jokes aside, it's ridiculous to be evaluated by folks who only have a clue. Especially in the absence of any evaluations by qualified personnel.

    Cheers...Cris
     
  9. aussieump

    aussieump FHF All Time Great
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    The aspect of Neutral umpires is something that we all have had over the years.

    The rostering of an umpire that has or did have an affiliation with a certain team can create issues that are not needed by that umpire, I support that whenever possible that situation should be avoided.

    I know it is not always possible especially in smaller regional competitions; otherwise we would not have umpires for any games. At tournament s that I have either been the TD or UM I endeavour to have all games covered by non aligned umpires, if it comes down to selecting an umpire that has had a previous affiliation I will arrange for a brief chat before the roster has been finalised and if I feel unsure then they will be excluded from that game.

    The hardest part for the umpire in that situation for me is they can either allow things in favour of the club/team or they become harder on them, either way the issue creates problems, much easier if possible to not create the instance.

    '
    Just my thought

    AU
     
  10. Neo

    Neo Technical Moderator

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    thought the term for the circumstances outlined was "disinterested" rather than "neutral"

    Disinterested; Free of bias and self-interest; impartial:

    The term is not so commonly used as it's meaning has been mixed with "uninterested" which is a different meaning. Umpires should be disinterested, and preferable unaffiliated with the teams they are umpiring.
     
  11. sase-31-19

    sase-31-19 FHF Regular Player

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    I agree that an Umpire should be neutral in itself, without having to state 'Neutral Umpire'
    I've had experiences where the other club has bought a biased Umpire, while some people were telling me to bias myself toward my own team in the same way, i continued to play as an 'Umpire' instead of a 'Biased Umpire' and the players all seemed to appreciate it.
     
  12. subtlegoalie

    subtlegoalie FHF Regular Player

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    So, how would you deal if you could see the other umpire is clearly letting their team's fouls slip unnoticed while unfairly nitpicking everything for quite a low level match? Do you start picking up every stick tackle that their team does? Stick tackles are always the worst I find as at every age I play with people still find it appropraite to come in and hack the stick 8 times before anything is done about it. If this kind of hackey hockey persisted it would warrant a green card, yes?
    Just wondering as I should be qualified Level 1 soon and I'm looking to umpire a team I played against when I filled in for our 2s and seriously I've never seen such aggressive play at such a relatively low level, even if it wasnt international or anything it was unacceptable.
     
  13. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

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    'Stick hacking' due to low levels of skill is a fact of life at the lower-levels of the game..... you simply could not blow every one...in many cases there is no significant disadvantage anyway.
    If it is getting out of hand have a word with the captains, then, if necessary give warnings and card, because it is something young/beginning players have to learn

    OTOH any play which you regard as 'aggressive' needs to be stamped-on early.

    As for 'one-armed' umpires (they only ever seem to point one way!), at all levels I'd just tend to try to umpire 'correctly' .... don't ever be dragged-into trying to 'even things up'.
    Mostly the players are bright enough to see what's happening and at least they are getting a 'fair deal' at your end :)

    JMO
     

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