Umpire Speaks Out, Mental Fatigue And Abuse

If you read no other story that the SWFL puts out this season, it is hoped that you will read this one, with a Senior Umpire within the SWFL expressing the emotions felt from umpiring multiple games and the unwanted and unwarranted abuse that comes with it.

The letter came off the back of an open meeting of umpires recently where umpires were given the opportunity to raise any issues.

Below are excerpts of the letter:

Frankly I am truly struggling to enjoy my time umpiring now. Physically, while getting tired, I can still perform at the level required of me. However mentally, I am at one of my lowest points. I cannot simply ignore the levels of dissent or abuse from the crowd, players, coaches and support staff.  Nor should I be expected to ignore it like it means nothing to me.  People who don’t know me in the slightest, but are free and eager to hurl whatever they want at me just because they’ve paid a gate fee.

It cannot be made clear enough, that we are NOT AFL standard umpires, teams are NOT competing for anything other than celebrating a win in a grand final.  There are no important stakes involved in community level football at all.  This is taken far too seriously by clubs in my opinion. I work a 48 to 54 hour work week and umpiring is supposed to be a fun social involvement in a sport I love, where I can unwind and forget the stresses that a working week has. However, recent weeks have made my enjoyment of umpiring almost non existent.

I keep umpiring due to the fact that without me, someone else would have to pick up my slack and do more games. I just cannot keep doing something like 2-3 games a week and expect to stay mentally healthy, because at this rate, I am beginning to suffer from adverse mental burnout.

I will, however, continue to umpire until such a point where it becomes truly detrimental to my health. I love umpiring, it is honestly one of the things that I am somewhat decent at and the people surrounding umpiring are wonderful, and to have that removed from my life would hurt.  But clubs need to have it made clear, that we are human beings with feelings, we’re not punching bags.  Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes, more mistakes than any umpire on game day, however it’s usually us that gets the blame for it.

This powerful message comes off the back of the Think Mental Health Round recently held in the SWFL.

Clubs were notified that in the back half of the season, Club Umpires will be required to fill spots that can’t be filled by panel umpires.

Please note the imagery of umpires used in this story is a file photo and does not in any way indicate that the umpires in the imagery wrote the above commentary.