This Town's Little League Has 'Ingenious' Plan for Unruly Parents

In Deptford, New Jersey, abusive spectators will have to take on umpire duties or be banned
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2023 11:38 AM CDT
Updated Apr 30, 2023 3:30 PM CDT
Think Twice Before Yelling at Your Kid's Ump Here
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/pkripper503)

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.

"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," says 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. Per WPVI, the new rule in Deptford came about after two volunteer Little League umpires recently quit within one week's time. The news station notes the bad behavior is happening at local youth football and soccer games, too.

"They're coming here, they're being abused, they don't need that," Don Bozzuffi, head of Deptford's Little League, tells the outlet, noting that sometimes the cops have had to be called. "So they're walking away." That's why now, if a baseball game attendee in Deptford gets up in the ump's face or otherwise violates the code of conduct, they'll have to put in their own three games as an ump to be allowed back as a spectator. If the loose cannon refuses, they'll be banned for a year from all of the town's youth sporting events, per

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A rep from Little League International says this is the first time the organization has seen this innovative move, and local parents seem to be on board with it. "If the parents are going to be sitting there yelling the whole entire game, they might as well use that energy out on the field," one mom tells WPVI. For those offenders who might try to get out of their umping duties by claiming they're not qualified to call balls and strikes, no worries: An official ump will be overseeing their work on the field. "We need you to come and see for yourself how difficult it is out there," Bozzuffi tells (More Little League stories.)

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