The writer, Jenn Gidman, writes:
“If you've ever attended a children's sporting event, you've likely witnessed a select few parents who get a little too much into the game, becoming agitated from the sidelines and even berating the refs or umpires. One New Jersey town has come up with a solution for that, and it's one that Good Morning America calls ‘ingenious.’ Now, unruly spectators who get confrontational with the umps at Little League games in Deptford Township will have to volunteer as umpires themselves for at least three games.”
She continues by quoting Brian Barlow, who founded the Offside Facebook page to “shame bad parents” and shine a light on how umping and refereeing aren't as easy as they seem: “People are very comfortable making officials uncomfortable, so it's about time that we've reversed the trend and started making people uncomfortable who are harassing officials.”
It seems that the new rule in Deptford came about after two volunteer Little League umpires recently quit within one week's time. Local news stations reports that the bad behavior is happening at local youth football and soccer games as well. According to Don Bozzuffi, head of Deptford's Little League: “They're coming here, they're being abused, they don't need that.”
He further notes that, sometimes, the police even have had to be called. And that is why volunteer umpires are now simply walking away. That is also why, now, if a baseball game attendee in Deptford gets up in the ump's face or otherwise violates the code of conduct, they will have to put in their own three games as an umpire before they are allowed back as a spectator.
And the rule is ironclad. Per NJ.com, “If the loose cannon refuses, they'll be banned for a year from all of the town's youth sporting events.” The article concludes by quoting Bozzuffi as saying: “We need you to come and see for yourself how difficult it is out there!”
As I read this, I could not help but reflect on the number of times I have personally witnessed what might appropriately be termed as inappropriate parental behavior. I can only hope that others cannot say that about me what I can now say about others here!
But even if one has never attended a Little League baseball game, let alone yelled at a Little League umpire, the article is still convicting. I say this because I believe it speaks to a deeper, broader human propensity: that of judging others, and in the process, inadvertently inviting the judgment of yet others upon oneself!
Jesus warned against this in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew (chapter 7, verse 2, NIV), when He said to us: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The New Living Translation of this verse reads: “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
And so, my friends, to judge or not to judge. It’s your call! Just be careful if you freely dispense your pronouncements upon others. Because, if you do, you might just find yourself being freely dispensed upon!