Township's Little League Cracks Down on Ump Abuse with Ump Assignments

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A New Jersey town is introducing a new rule to crack down on spectator misbehavior after parents were caught on camera berating umpires.

Two volunteer Little League umpires in Deptford Township, New Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia, quit within the past week.

"They're coming here, they're being abused,. They don't need that, so they're walking away," Deptford Township Little League president Don Bozzuffi told Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI.

This season, Deptford Township Little League is trying out a new rule: if you fight with the umps during a game, you have to volunteer your time to umpire three games before you're allowed back as a spectator.

"The main purpose is not for them to be able to call a baseball game, but for them to see what's going on out here and it's not that easy," said Bozzuffi.

"You’re not allowed to come onto our complex until you complete three umpire assignments. Once you do that, then we’ll let you come back."

Any time the new rule is enforced, Bozzuffi says a certified umpire will be present to make sure the calls are correct.

Kateland Tokley, a mother in Somerdale, likes the idea, telling WPVI's Trish Hartman, "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."

Little League International President and CEO Stephen Keener said he thinks the solution has the potential to be a home run.

“Little League International expects its participants and fans to adhere to the highest level of sportsmanship while attending local league events," Keener said, as reported by ABC News. "We applaud the volunteers at Deptford Township Little League for coming up with a creative, fun solution to shine a light on the importance of treating everyone with respect, on and off the Little League field."

Brian Barlow, founder of Offside, a Facebook page that calls out bad behavior among youth sports parents, told ABC News, "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." 

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