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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the process for becoming an umpire?
To become an umpire and member of the Spokane Baseball Umpires Association you would need to do the following:
Step 1. Complete the inquiry form on our home page. Once you have done that, a representative from SBU will contact you to help familiarize you with our organization and answer any questions you might have.
Step 2. After that meeting, your initial contact information will be loaded into the Arbiter app, and you will receive an email inviting you to complete your profile and set up your login and password preferences.
Step 3. Before you can be assigned any games, you will need to complete several on-line clinics, pass a rules test, and pass a background check.
Will I receive training?
Yes, SBU provides classroom training sessions at a series of pre-season meetings. These meetings generally occur on Sunday afternoons throughout the months of January and February and will cover such topics as rules, mechanics, game management, equipment, and professionalism. SBU will also provide opportunities for on-field training to reinforce what has been presented in the classroom meetings.
It is expected that each umpire will increase their own knowledge by studying the rules, case plays and mechanics books provided by SBU. In addition, there are several excellent umpire training websites which provide in-depth explanation of rules and mechanics. (Links to these sites can be found on our Resources page.) Finally, as a member of SBU and the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), you will receive monthly issues of Referee magazine which also has a number of books and pamphlets that can be very helpful to new officials.
Will I get paid for being an umpire?
Yes, game fees will generally range from $55.00 to $95.00 per game depending on the program/league being served and level of competition. In some cases, additional fees are paid for travel depending on the program/league being served and the distance the game is from your zipcode. The current fee schedule is available in Arbiter under "Lists>Forms."
Officials will be paid through ArbiterPay for all WIAA school games. Instructions for setting up your account are available by viewing a step-by-step video posted on the Arbiter SBU Main Page. Payment for non-scholastic games can be done though direct deposit or by monthly check. Because of the convenience, most umpires choose the direct deposit method.
More detailed information regarding payment for games worked is available in the document "2022 Payroll FAQ's."
Will I be an employee of Spokane Baseball Umpires?
No, you are considered an independent contractor and will be provided with a 1099 at the end of each year showing your earnings as an umpire. For tax purposes it is highly recommended that you maintain a mileage log and keep receipts for any equipment purchases.
As a member of the Spokane Baseball Umpires you will be provided liability insurance through the Washington Officials Association (WOA) and the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). In addition, Worker's Compensation is provided for injuries received while officiating a game. Please download the document "L&I Coverage" for instructions on how to file a worker's compensation claim.
What about uniforms and equipment?
By policy. SBU requires umpires to be properly and professionally equipped when officiating games. Attire would include a black cap, black or blue umpire shirt, charcoal gray pants, black belt, black socks, and black plate and/or base shoes.
Basic equipment required would include face mask, chest protector, cup, shin guards, black ball bag, indicator and plate brush.
Basic uniform and equipment components can either be purchased independently, or can be obtained from the SBU Treasurer. If obtained through SBU, new umpires will be provided the necessary equipment without up front charges, but will then reimburse SBU for the cost of that equipment through deductions of game fees until the equipment is paid for.
Additional equipment and accessories that are highly recommended include: water bottle, lineup card holder and pen/pencil, black undershirts (2-3), light black leggings (to reduce shin guard chafing), black umpire jacket, gloves and scarf/balaclava for cold weather games, a second/backup indicator, and extra shoelaces. Many of these items can be found at local sporting goods stores or online at various umpire attire sites. (See our Resources page for recommended suppliers.)
How and when will I be assigned games?
Before you can be assigned a game, you will need to provide needed financial information in Arbiter (i.e., SSN, banking information, etc.), and complete several on-line clinics, pass a rules test, and pass an annual background check.
Once those tasks have been accomplished, you will be certified as ready for assignment. After the season begins, our assigners will check your availability and assign you to games that match your skill level and experience. Game assignments are generally sent out via email one to two weeks prior to the game. However, life can be unpredictable and there is the possibility that your game assignment will be changed. When that happens, you will contacted by text or phone call by the assigner to confirm that any change in game assignment is amenable to you.
After a game assignment is sent to you (please check your email daily), you will then have two days to "accept" or "decline" the assigned game. Because you will have been able to set your own schedule in Arbiter (see below), declining a game is highly discouraged and may result in penalties as per the SBU Decline Policy.
Can I set my own schedule?
Yes, in Arbiter you will be able to "block" out days and times when you know that you will not be available to umpire a game.
NOTE: It is extremely important for the smooth running of our assigning that your blocks in Arbiter be kept current and accurate.
Will I work alone, or with a partner?
For new umpires, we will ideally partner you with a more experienced umpire when you first begin umpiring games. However, as your skill level and experience increases, you will sometimes be assigned games to work "solo," usually when those are games played by younger players, or in less competitive situations.
What age levels will I be likely to umpire?
SBU contracts with a number of leagues and organizations to provide umpires.
Currently, the youngest level is 8 years and under (8U) with the Spokane Indians Youth Baseball organization. There is also interscholastic (school) ball which ranges from Middle School through High School. American Legion in the summers usually fields teams with high school players. We do assign games at the college level to very experienced umpires. Finally, we also serve Recreational Men's League baseball where the players are adults.
When does the season start and end?
Interscholastic/School baseball generally starts around mid-March. Spokane Indians Youth Baseball and American Legion games take place during the summer, along with a number of tournaments. The season generally ends with "Fall Ball" in mid-October.
Are there dues or other fees that I will have to pay?
Yes, There is an annual membership fee of $65 for NASO (National Association of Sports Officials), and a $30 annual sport specific fee for membership in the WOA (Washington Officials Association.) In addition, SBU charges an administrative fee of 8% of the total game fee for each game assigned. Note: The NASO fee includes the cost of providing monthly issues of Referee Magazine.
What if I get hurt while umpiring? What if I get sued?
If you become injured while officiating a game assigned to you by SBU, you will have Worker's Compensation coverage under the auspices of Washington State Labor & Industries. Please use the contact form below if you need help filing a claim.
If you are sued for any reason by a player, coach, spectator, or other official, you are covered under the liability policies of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). Please see the NASO's General Liability Insurance Protection Explanation for more detail.
What if I have additional questions?
Simply complete and submit the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.