All day yesterday and last night was the all day tournament for the Orem Youth Baseball Monday Night Lights accelerated leagues. Coming home, I was amazed at the bruises currently on my body. The cover photo shows you a view of my torso that few have seen in the last thirty years. They are the result of pitched balls hitting the dirt in front of the catcher, and magically going underneath the catcher and up into the bottom sides of my thighs.
But don't think this is just a baseball issue. I just worked the Splash-N-Dash softball tournament in Grantsville and the Timp Classic in Pleasant Grove this past weekend and the 14U and 18U girls added to the list of bruises.
I can flash back in my mind over the last 8 weeks and I can vividly remember at least 25 shots to thighs, shoulders, shins, toes, with a special emphasis on elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands. Add to that the migraines that have resulted from direct face shots that damage the jawbone connections and whiplash injuries to the necks, and it is enough to make you stop and ask yourself why we do this? Why do we umpire baseball and softball? What is the payoff? Is the sacrifice really worth it? Well even in my most bruised up condition I can say that it is all worth it. There is a great feeling of self-satisfaction. I umpire with some of the greatest people I have ever met. In the process, I come home late at nights totally exhausted, both physically and mentally.
I have worked hard to try to master this craft and learn both the rules and the mechanics. This includes multiple rule books and multiple sets of mechanics. And trying to keep them all straight in my head when I have the plate gear on in the 100-plus degree heat of the day is no easy feat. So what is the payoff?
- MONEY - Yes, there is money paid for services rendered, but that is not why I do it. Is it for the power that comes with officiating?... Partly. After all, we are all powerful on the field.
- GIVING BACK - Is the payoff related with giving back to the sports I have come to love. Absolutely! Having players, coaches, and fans come up and thank me for a well officiated game, whether they have won or lost, is a great payoff.
- PERFECTION - Is it because it is near impossible to be perfect, yet perfection is our ultimate goal? That is a huge part of it as well, at least for me.
I am striving for complete umpiring self-mastery and try to make each game my perfect moment. I have gotten close, but have yet to walk off knowing that temporary perfection was achieved. What it really all comes back to game management. I am striving to reach perfection in the management of the game, and in the process, I get both physical and mental bruises. Physically the balls are beating me up. Mentally, trying to maintain the coaches, players, fans, and events on the field are also bruising. In fact, I must have four times as many emotional bruises as I do physical bruises. But that doesn't stop me...
Tonight I take the plate for the Orem Youth Baseball All-Star game and later this week I travel south for the ASA Cedar City Festival tournament. Maybe then I can start to heal up a bit.
Make it a great day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah
How Many Bruises Are you Currently Sporting?