Umpires - Good or Bad this year?
Well here's my first rant for the year and I thought I may as well start it off with a bang and discuss everyone's favorite men in white (well green and red here) , the OAFL umpires.
Like everyone else I enjoy abusing them when I think they have made a bad call against my team. But that is all part of the fun and spirit of the game.
I do agree that the constant rule changes make it even harder for them to be consistent - or for us to properly understand their interpretation of the rules.
Now I've been playing in this league for two season and so I can only remark on how the umpires have faired throughout them. Though, it must be noted that I have heard from many that it wasn't that different in the previous years.
So were do you start with a topic like this, do I bring up last years awful display of umpiring in the 2009 OAFL Grand final or would I be perceived as being bias towards the Eagles. Even though nearly everyone in the crowd (minus the people in blue and white) agreed that two of the biggest blunders had the greatest effects on the games outcome. Or do I discuss what I hope this year will bring to the league in terms of officiating and what should be improved upon.
You see whether we like to admit it or not, the umpires have a profound affect on the game here in ontario. And there are two area's in which I see the most problems with umpires.
The first is they seem to have become bigger than the game, always eager to impart themselves upon a contest with a vigour and enthusiasm to become involved in the play. It's time they realised they are there to complement a passage of play not compete to become a part of it.
There are certain umpires in this league that seem to want to have an affect on the outcome of the game and will call a ridiculous amounts of 50's and brandish yellow and red cards like their parking tickets.
Umpires need to be told before the season that the measure of their effectiveness is “a good umpire is measured by people not noticing they were out there at all”.
Secondly the rules which have been 'improved' upon over the years have made the game pretty difficult to umpire. Most would agree that Australian rules football is a hard game to umpire, and for this I sympathies with the umpiring group.
A perfect example of this would be any time a player is tackled in a game. Umpires are presented with several outcomes that can be decided that will all have a degree of correctness. Here's a break down:
Holding the ball
How can the umpires possibly get it right consistently with so many options for one act? It’s time we simplified the umpiring of the game. For example when it comes to a tackle I say if a player does not handball or kick the football the tackling player should receive a free kick, simple. Simplify the rules and make the game easier to umpire.
Now I know the OAFL wants to be bigger and better every year and I'm all for that, but the honest truth is that we are not the AFL and certain rules that are implemented in the AFL don't necessarily need to be implemented in the OAFL. For instance I've heard this year that the new rules that have been implemented in the 2009 AFL season will be implemented in the OAFL, is this truly necessary? worth thinking about.
I’d also just like to point out that the 50 meter penalty is quickly deteriorating our game. Seriously, they should only be granted in the most extreme of circumstances but more often than not we are now seeing them given out simply when an umpire has a sheepish quiver because a player has (calmly) made an observation thus defying a decision and somehow intimidating the umpire, like so many times we’ve seen in previous years.
As the years have gone by I have heard negative statement about umpiring repeated many times both in the OAFL and back home and have come to the view that umpires in every league are considered ‘the worst ever”.
The bottom line is that it is a really difficult job and in my opinion almost impossible to be regularly consistent. The things that are being said about umpires now have been said in the past and will still be said 50 years from now.
The pace of the modern game and the greater scrutiny of their decisions makes their job even tougher. Like the players - there are very good umpires, average umpires and bad umpires. And like the players even the really good ones can have a bad day/night.