Once upon a time, a long time ago, I used to love sports. Yep, I really did. I liked playing, watching, coaching, pretty much anything that allowed me to be on scene. When I lived in Washington state, I had the opportunity to become an umpire. Softball was a big sport up there. Church ball was a big sport up there. The difference was, that church ball was always played on the city league. That meant that the Stake leadership had to work together with the City to get everything set up. Every ward played ball, and there were quite a few wards. We had at least eight teams of girls playing ball.
Somehow, I was approached to go to training and learn to be an umpire. I said yes, and away I went. They require all the umpires to take classes and pass tests in order to umpire a city league. Probably because you umpire so many different types of ball up there. I umpired fast-pitch, slow-pitch, coed and even little league. It really was a lot of fun. I did everything that I needed to do to qualify and they gave me the schedule for all the games. Some involved LDS teams and some did not. I loved umpiring fast-pitch girls! But, I also believed in following the rules and one of the rules was that the field was mine and I could choose how I would run my game. I could choose which rules I would follow and which (if any) I would let slide.
This was in the 70's, and believe it or not, courtesy and respect were required during sporting events. It was a rule I enforced with every team and every coach. It was one I informed them I WOULD NOT bend on. There would be no disrespect toward others of either team, the coaches or the umpires. That meant no name calling or swearing. I did not care if they got a little excited in the game. I just cared that they remember, Who they are, Where they are, and What was most important. This went for everyone and it was the first instruction that I gave both teams before having them take their places on the field.
One beautiful Saturday morning, I went to umpire a game. By this time, I have many games under my belt and was pretty comfortable with the routine. Something happened with this group of girls though. One father in the spectators section was loud, vocal, and rude. He called the girls names, he called the coaches names, and he called me names that were horrible. He would not quit swearing. The girls on the team he was cheering for started to respond to his attitude. They also got rude. They made comments to each other, the other team, the other umpire and myself. I talked one of the girls did not like a play that I called and she used a totally inappropriate word. I threw her out of the game. The spectator was her father and he came down out of the stands and was in my face just like you see on national baseball. he used a couple of totally inappropriate words. I had put up with enough.
I met with my first base umpire, we both agreed, so we called the coaches over and cancelled the game. It was a forfeit against the team with the rude spectator. As I walked off the field, my face was burning because of the words coming from the mouths of those girls and those parents. They were horrible to us. They had forgotten who they were. They had forgotten why they were there and they had forgotten what was most important. Do you want to know the really sad part of this? That was one of the church teams.
The team filed a complaint against me and several weeks later a man came up to me after one of the games. "Do you know who I am?" He asked me. I did not and told him so. He then informed me that he was from the state board that issued the licenses to the umpires. He told me about the complaint, I told him what happened. He told me that he had been a spectator at several of my games and that he had never seem me call a wrong call. He had also seen that I discussed the requirements of sportsmanship with every team. And that I upheld those rules in an equal and fair manner. He said, "I just want you to know that I am upholding your decision on that game. The team gets a forfeit. I wish more of my umpires were like you". Remember the wise words, "You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything!"
Alma 39: 11-13
11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your cconduct they would not believe in my words.
12 And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities;
13 That ye turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength; that ye lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and that wrong which ye have done.
Satan is so good at making evil look good, and good look unsophisticated and boring. He has done this for countless centuries before us and he is working on our generation now. We live in a world were all around us evil is accepted as normal. Our children are challenged daily because of their standards and beliefs. May we each stand for something important! May we remember always, Who we are, Where we are, and What really matters in our lives. Remember not to trade the things that you want most, for the things that you want right now. You can live according to your Heavenly Father's laws. You can make a difference.