The Umpire Code of Ethics – OR How To Be a Great Human



I just finished having the honor of being the Deputy UIC for an ASA National Championship. It was one of the most rewarding experiences in my umpiring career so far. I got to watch – and help – a bunch of 24 umpires grow into CHAMPIONSHIP umpires (I still get goosebumps thinking about it – and I think Mike Katz has video of me in a dunk tank!).

What struck me most is that by the end of the week I felt proud for each of these umpires not only because they were great umpires, but also because they were GREAT HUMANS! Which got me thinking about what makes a great umpire and a great human. And so of course I opened up my Umpire Rule Book and Manual!

If you open your 2014 Umpire Manual to page 221 you’ll see a half-page list titled “Code of Ethics for Umpires.” Have you read it? Do you follow the code?

“Code of Ethics” is just a fancy title for knowing what’s right and what’s wrong. And acting accordingly.

What’s “Right” as an umpire:

  • Honor your commitments – when you give an assignor your availability, and they schedule you, you need to do those games. The umpire manual says to honor your commitments “regardless of possible inconvenience or financial basis.”
  • Continue to learn – study the rules, watch other good umpires, and work to improve at all times.
  • Be fair and unbiased – make decisions on the field based on your honest judgment of the plays and their outcomes, and not to favor or dis-favor any team for any reason.
  • Be mentally and physically able – do what you can to prepare both mentally and physically to provide your best self to the teams, players and leagues.

What’s “Wrong” as an umpire:

  • Acting arrogant, cocky, or rude – you must work to be dignified, confident, firm yet approachable. Remember we are out there to give the teams and players a fair and fun experience.
  • Embarrassing your fellow umpires – you must work to always conduct yourself professionally with your fellow umpires – don’t throw them under the bus or show them up on the field. Remember you are a team out there.
  • Dressing unprofessionally – you must work to wear the right uniform for each game. Not wearing the uniform, or wearing the wrong uniform, shows a lack of respect not only for you, the teams and players, but for ASA and our Association as well. Imagine a US Army soldier showing up to battle in the wrong uniform – what would that say about the USA?

Seems like the “Umpire Code of Ethics” is a pretty good starting point for “Life’s Code of Ethics” – it all comes down to being the best human being you can be. So how are YOU being the BEST HUMAN you can be – on the field and off?

Kayleen Dunson
Seattle ASA Umpire In Chief