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An umpire in the foreground kneels down to see if a pitch thrown by Post 8 pitcher AJ Goeden is in the strike zone in a game against Rapid City Post 320. A Rapid City Post 320 coach was ejected earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes.

Nothing makes me smile quite like a good ejection from a ball game.

One of my favorite videos online is of then-Mississippi Braves manager Brian Wellman throwing a rosin bag like a grenade while he was getting ejected. It always makes me smile and giggle like crazy.

What happened the other night in the Pierre Post 8-Rapid City Post 320 game wasn’t quite on the same level for me.

For those unaware, a coach for Rapid City Post 320 was ejected midway through the second game of a doubleheader on Tuesday night. He was arguing balls and strikes, and imploring the home plate umpire to call a fair game. In his fiery tirade towards the umpire, the coach used a certain word that you’re not usually allowed to use more than once in a PG-13 movie.

It’s not right to curse in front of kids. It sets a bad example for them. I remember my gym teacher at Lyman Elementary, the great Bob King, once told me that I couldn’t curse until I graduated high school. I was cursing long before then. When you live in the country or amongst country folk, you’ll hear all sorts of cursing, especially when a cow gets out of the pasture that it’s supposed to be in. I was always told to do as my elders say, not say as my elders do.

The ejection on Tuesday certainly electrified the crowd a little bit. A lot of people groaned, and told the coach he was being a bad example. There were a few people that found the incident a thing to laugh and joke about. I heard one person ask if the coach said fire truck.

The incident proved to me that it is awfully hard to be an official. Sure, they’re not going to get every single call correct. That’s not an excuse to yell at the poor folks that are taking time out of their day to officiate a game. It’s not just baseball that it happens in, either. It happens in all sports.

Right now in America, we’re going through a little bit of a referee shortage. Nobody wants to take that kind of abuse from parents, coaches and players. It’s rough, and I don’t envy the people that call the games one bit. The most common thing I hear when someone that is complaining about refereeing or umpiring is that the complaining party could not get paid enough to do the job.

That’s the thing, though. It shouldn’t ever be about the pay. People that referee and umpire games do so because they want to give back in some sort of way to the game or sport that they love. Sure, the pay helps, but it’s not the only thing that matters to them. I challenge anyone out there to ask an umpire or a referee that they know why they do the job, and why they take that abuse. I’d venture a guess and say that they’d say something along the lines of what I’m trying to say.

To hit that point home even more, look at referees in the NFL. A lot of them have other jobs. Ed Hochuli is an attorney. Walt Coleman is a dairy farmer. Gene Steratore owns a sanitary supply company. My personal favorite referee, Mike Carey, owns a ski equipment company. They could be anywhere else on a Sunday, yet they’re calling the game that your favorite NFL team is playing in.

I’d urge anyone out there that thinks that they can do a better job than the referees and umpires out there to apply to be a referee. Contact any South Dakota High School Activities Association official, such as John Krogstrand or Dan Swartos, and they will probably be able to point you in the direction you need to be pushed towards. We need more referees and umpires in this state, and in this country. To the people that are taking in the game, whether from the sidelines or the stands, please be nice to the referees and umpires. Imagine having a couple hundred people yelling at you while you do your job. Probably wouldn’t feel very nice, would it? To the umpires and referees, I wish you the best of luck in trying to call the games that you call. While you might not get every call right, at least you’re doing something you love. If you do something you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

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