"It wasn't unanimous, but it was the most overwhelming vote I've ever participated in. Everyone is very happy and pleased that we could work through this. This was a good day for baseball and a good day for the umpires. We will make every effort to keep baseball and professional umpires first. We will all work hard to make it right." ~ Joe West, President, World Umpires Association.
The words of veteran baseball umpire and president of world umpire association, on the ratification of the five year deal with Major League Baseball thereby extending the contract of umpires for a period of another 5 years, till Dec. 31, 2014. This highlights the crucial position, umpires hold, in today's sports and games. The deal also envisioned modest increase in the salaries of umpires, as well as working on their early retirements plans.
Yes, being a professional umpire is now a recognized profession and presents a host of career opportunities. The umpiring fraternity is filled with success stories of umpires like Bruce Froemming, who has been in this field for nearly all his life.
Umpires or referees are the professionals, who are majorly responsible for ensuring that the rules of the games are effectively followed. For the layman, the personality of an umpire evokes images of a sturdy and big headed strong person, who's domination and decisiveness controls the game at every step.
Certainly, umpires look after the discipline and behavior of the players on the ground. Any reports of indecent behavior is dealt as per the laws of the governing panel. Be it the umpires of the MLB or that of the National Basketball Association (NBA), they can report about the undisciplined actions of the players to the head umpire or the governing authorities. They also have to be at top of their physical fitness, because an entire season's tour can wear them down.
A common curiosity among people is related to the earning potential of an umpire. Depending on the games umpires are involved in, the salary range varies. For example, an umpire working in the National Basketball Association may earn anything between USD 100,000 to USD 300,000 for a season of about 82 games. For the umpires in the Major League Baseball, the salary of an umpire ranges between USD 120,000 (starters) to as high as 300,000 (for senior umpires).
For the National Football League, umpire salary range is between USD 25,000 to USD 70,000. It is to be remembered that the NFL umpires work only on Sundays!! And that is why they come from diverse professional backgrounds like entrepreneurs, IT professionals, police officers and retired army officers. The path involves attending training schools for a period of few months, as per the structure of the training program. The basic requirements are a high school diploma, good communication skills, athletic body, good vision and an ability to take firm decision.
Many of the training schools are privately owned and they conduct their own exams to choose candidates for training. Generally, for retired players, sports enthusiasts, and experienced coaches, the desire to be an active contributor to the game usually drives them to continue in this field.
If you have a good exposure of the sport you're planning to enter. It makes the training easier and you're aware of the ground rules. Traveling perks, accommodation and other perks are also provided to them. Lots of traveling may often keep umpires away from their families.
Just like other professions, even this has its own share of challenges. So, if you've been thinking of a career as an umpire, then you can be assured of earning some good money, All the Best!