Umpiring - Art, Craft, or Science?

Discussion in 'Development, Skills & Advice' started by Diligent, May 16, 2008.

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  1. Art

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  2. Craft

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  3. Science

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  4. Other

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  1. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

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    I think where 'creativity' and art can come in is in the management of conflict situations...and general 'people skills'.

    There is definitely no clear-cut answer to handling many of the various such incidents which occur in any game... if it works, it's probably right :).....although later reflection may suggest to you how you might have handled it even better!

    If your approach to a specific incident doesn't appear to be working, first you need the sensitivity to realise this, and then you need to consider doing something different.

    Experience, coaching and watching other umpires provides you with a 'toolkit' of different things to say and do, plus, hopefully, the sense to know which ishould be 'first choice'.

    Sometimes, for example, it's just finding that brief comment which (usually) defuses a potentially explosive situation.

    The only 'science' is a bit of understanding of 'behavioural psychology' :D
    Mostly it's experience, and a desire to improve this area of your 'job'.
     
  2. A Tidewater Ump

    A Tidewater Ump FHF Newbie

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    very interesting and useful thoughts here, goes along with the concepts of consistency in many ways. I think Neo was well on track with the breakdowns of the 3 areas, I further would add that one of the artistic parts is in knowing how to continue to work with the medium (players, coaches, weather, pitch conditions) to effect the desired outcome (a decent match, minimal whistles, good sportsmanship). Note effect and not affect.

    great question, looking forward to more ideas..... maybe even more coaches Grumpy! ;)
     
  3. redumpire

    redumpire FHF All Time Great
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    Another log for the fire: a quotation from French film director Jean-Luc Godard:

     
  4. Diligent

    Diligent FHF All Time Great
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    So the producer raises all that money so the director, the actors, the extras, the gaffers, electricians, clapper loaders, etc can all just mill around...?
    Yeah right! :rolleyes:

    But in a way Jean-Luc is right. The art of cinema, and probably of umpiring, emerges from within the individual.
    There is that je-ne-sais-quoi that cannot be taught.

    When we set out to train the umpires who perhaps will end up doing it better than we can ourselves, we can only teach them the craft.
     
  5. keely

    keely FHF Legend

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    That reminds me of the comments of one of my UM's at the Junior World Cup in 2005. She said (paraphrasing), "Keely, your calls are correct. You're in the right spot. You read the game well. Now, it's time to take it to the next level develop your style and personality." Perhaps that can fall under the rubric of "art".
     
  6. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

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    This suggests to me that the UM thinks international umpires should be 'personalities' ;)

    There are a very few, IMO, who have the charisma (or whatever) to be able to combine that sort of 'visible presence' with effective umpiring...the great Santi Deo comes to mind, and, in soccer, Pierluigi Collina :eek: (That smiley is scarily lifelike in the latter case!!)

    For most mere mortals, I tend to the view that the umpire should, for the most part, have a 'low profile'....unless, of course the game requires otherwise.

    [P.S. I just learnt a new definition of 'rubric'....there are several!]
     
  7. keely

    keely FHF Legend

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    I would agree with that, justin. As I tried to get across, this very extremely high-level stuff. Maybe that means the "art" only comes into play at international levels. Goodness knows, any artistry I may have had prior to 2005 was pounded out of me at the domestic level ("hold your arm like THIS! Stand right here! Don't speak! Don't crack a smile!" blah blah blah). Trying to re-inject that into my game is one of the biggest challenges I face.
     
  8. Neo

    Neo Technical Moderator

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    I guess, Keely, that rapport with the players is part craft/art and part "je ne sais quois". But that's part of what top entertainers/artists/artistes do... its the capacity to communicate with absolute ease with the audience, to the extent that each person believes that the artist is speaking just to them. At the umpiring level, (and its only conjecture, cos I'm simply not in that league) that art/skill of communication and interaction with the players and the game is so effortless that in the end the umpire(s) become unnoticeable (was going to say invisible , but holographic officials are still a little way away).

    As idealistic as it sounds, I think most umpires have had a taste of it at some time in their careers, a day, a game, or even a session of play during a game when they were simply "hot" - as if they had second sight and so were just smoothing the flow. <<End of rant>>
     
  9. justin-old

    justin-old FHF Legend

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    Yes, but my point...and keely's I think... is that there is, apparently, a level beyond 'invisibility' where the umpire becomes a visible part of the 'total entertainment package' (I shudder as I write that, but I can just hear some PR person using it :rolleyes: ).

    Very few can ever realistically aspire to be more than 'unobtrusive', IMO ....what current referee, for example, has, or ever will have, the 'presence' of Collena?

    What may be possible, I suppose (from my position of ignorance) is a greater ability to 'engage' with the players, so that they feel you are there to help them have a btter game , and not just to 'police' it.

    (I am reluctant to use the term 'police' in this way, although it's generally understood.....my SiL is a policeman and I believe that a good beat policeman has many of the qualities of a good umpire, and is not simply a 'law-enforcement officer' as they call 'em in some places! He/she is there to try to ensure that the law-abiding can get on with and enjoy their lives, unhindered by 'the others'.)

    (Re-reading your post, Neo, I think that you were to some extent saying the same things?)
     
  10. redumpire

    redumpire FHF All Time Great
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    I was recently fortunate enough to hear a lecture by Professor Joe Hall, Visiting Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, on the subject of 'Balancing Art and Science in Business'. Prof Hall's basic thesis is that 'Artists' are those highly skilled employees who deliver judgement-based, professional work in highly variable areas (examples might be doctors, lawyers, chefs, software developers etc); while the 'Scientists' are those delivering the more rigid, definiable processes, that are important in their own right, but also as supporters of what the 'Artists' are trying to achieve. It was a fascinating lecture.

    What particularly struck me is how the thesis might be applicable to hockey umpiring. At the conclusion of the lecture Prof Hall gave us a draft copy of an article he is co-writing. Unfortunately, I can't share this with you for copyright reasons, but here's an extract that I think is directly relevant to our 'art', if we replace the words "Ritz employee" with "hockey umpire" in the first sentence:

    Hall, Joseph M. and Johnson, M. Eric (2008), Process Transformation - Striking the Right Balance Between Art and Science. Draft version of 23 May 2008, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA.

    I think that describes exactly where the conflict between umpires and players/coaches lies: the latter's expectation of scientific consistency in the inconsistent environment that umpires are trying to manage.

    Edited to correct citation
     
  11. Grumpy

    Grumpy FHF Legend

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    Very interesting and appropriate.

    The conflict i agree does arise, but i would feel that the higher quality umpires do this and after the heat of a match i personally feel coaches will acknowlage the umpire in the main has been correct in their decisions and do communicate this to the umpires, i certainly do if i have been mistaken.

    Unfortunately below the top level a large number of umpires know the rules but have no interpretational skills and really lack people skills.
    So they umpire and react in a very rigid manner which does not endear themselves to players or coaches.

    This post is in no way ment to be confrontational it is just what i have found in 35 years of being involved in hockey both as a player and as a coach.

    I strongly believe that umpiring is very strongly an art, as i actually believe coaching is an art as well, science has its place but it is an art when to make decisions and when not to. Others will disagree but thats my view.
     
  12. redumpire

    redumpire FHF All Time Great
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    I guess that they're the scientists - looking for rigid conformance to a set of rules, to use Prof Hall's terminology - while the top guys are the artists.

    I didn't think your post was in any way confrontational, grumpy: just an honest reflection of your experiences.
     
  13. Grumpy

    Grumpy FHF Legend

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    Ta, thanks very much, i agree with you thoughts. :yes:
     
  14. keely

    keely FHF Legend

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    Grumpy, we even see that same distinction on discussions here on the forums. Some umpires want that black & white scientific certainty: when x happens, is the result always Y?, whereas some want to illustrate generalities but also allow for ambiguity. I think we all try to come up with factors that allow for the greatest amount of consistency in our decision-making as a group/larger community, but understanding how that line between science and art (if we call it that) gets crossed and how to do it right is a big challenge.
     

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