Taking a page from volleyball, some South Dakota umpires may be handing out YELLOW and RED Cards this summer.
“Many leagues and tournaments seem to be struggling to get umpires to work both baseball and softball games, especially in the adult divisions” explained SD ASA/USA UIC Steve Riswold. “The reasons are varied but one of the top things we hear are players arguing calls and the only recourse is ejection.”
During discussion amongst National Umpire Staff, Riswold said someone asked what was the purpose of the Yellow and Red card in volleyball?
ASA/USA UIC Kevin Ryan commented “After hearing the explanation from some who work both game, many in attendance thought this idea might be worth looking at for our game.”
When I received the call from Steve, he explained. “Kevin asked those in attendance if any states would be interested.”
Everyone in attendance thought it might be a good idea, but they all doubted if any state would be willing to experiment state wide.
“Then Kevin asked if there would be any local leagues that might be interested in the experiment? So I volunteered South Dakota hoping you would volunteer Watertown.” Steve chuckled. “If not, I will try Sioux Falls.”
Before I agreed, I wanted to find more about the “the Cards” so I asked Watertown UIC and volleyball refree Kelly Johnson, for a short summary of the meaning of the cards:
Kelly said it is pretty simple. A yellow is a "Coach I hear you, I have acknowledged I have heard you, that is enough.”
Johnson goes on to say “A red card is an immediate ejection. The player is done for the game. The ultimate penalty is a yellow and red together. That is the last resort and results in a game forfeiture.”
After hearing Kelly’s explanation, I talked to Riswold about the advantages of this program.
We agreed that a Yellow card was a chance to stop the argument, tell the player that the umpire had heard enough. It gives the player and the umpire time to “cool the situation” without further verbal confrontation.
Of course if things escalate the umpire still has the option of the Red Card ejection, but without the verbal command. It would not be as obvious to those in attendance, which would hopefully keep the situation from escalating even further. This hopefully would eliminate the need for a Yellow/Red game forfeiture.
We all thought it was worth the trying, but had to convince the league. We met by phone with Bill and Nancy Conlin of the Watertown league. When we explained the plan, Nancy was in favor but Bill was skeptical that it was not needed.
When we explained to Bill that experienced umpires probably does not need this. But the young inexperienced umpire who is not real sure of himself yet, would have this option instead of the dreaded verbal confrontation.
“Even though we do not have a real problem in Watertown” Nancy’s thoughts were “It would be a way to give a sportsmanship trophy at the end of the year. The team with the least amount of Yellow Cards could get a traveling sportsmanship trophy”.
After getting the Ok from Kevin, the cards have been printed. The Watertown umpires meet this weekend so that we have a chance to explain the plan to them, and then in a couple of weeks explain to the teams.
Watertown is hoping that this works well this year, if so expand to other leagues in ’17!
*Make sure to read the 1st letter of the cards top down!