Umpires are used in baseball, cricket and tennis. They are the folks who determine whether or not players are playing by the rules, and what to do when they aren’t.
Umpires must be sports fans, but also sticklers for following the rules. They also need to be people with upstanding moral character, so they’re not bending the rules for some players and not others, nor favoring a certain team. Impartiality is key to an umpire’s success.
In Major League Baseball, there are only 68 umpires in the entire sport, which means that there’s a long waiting list before you’ll get the call to make the calls. In the meantime, you can be an umpire in the minor leagues (where there are 225 positions available), or in college baseball, at Little League games, or unofficial matches. You can also umpire softball games (as pictured above), which have slightly different rules than baseball games – be sure not to mix them up!
Alternatives to being an umpire: Become a referee, linesman, adjudicator, arbitrator, judge, moderator or official. Every sport has their own name for the people who make sure the rules are being followed. Pick your favorite sport, learn all the rules, and start armchair umping!
Judges are typically lawyers that have advanced enough in their careers – and who have learned how to work the political side of the system – to become elected or appointed as the heads of the courtroom. In the state of California, judges must have been lawyers in good standing for at least 10 years before they can apply to become judges. Becoming a judge isn’t quite as straightforward as becoming a lawyer (which can also be tricky), but since this is a job that comes with great responsibility, it’s important that the people who want to obtain the position are both intelligent and ethical.
People like, say, Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Unless, of course, you’re a TV judge… in which case all bets are off!
Actually, in case you’re wondering, Judge Judy was a real judge. Her full name is Judith Sheindlin, and she was appointed by NYC Mayor Ed Koch in 1982 as a criminal court judge, and later became Manhattan’s supervising family court judge. After her retirement, she took up her TV post judging all manner of cases on Judge Judy, where she’s been calling the shots since 1996. Her favorite phrase is: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
If you don’t like Judge Judy’s rulings, remember that the law can always be interpreted differently by individual judges.
Want to get some experience in the courtroom without taking on huge amounts of student debt or becoming a lawyer? Everyone who is registered to vote in the U.S. (or, in California, who holds a valid driver’s license) is eventually called to serve jury duty. This means that you may potentially become a member of a 12-person jury on a criminal case, and decide the fate of the accused in a trial. You’ll get to see how a real courtroom operates, and participate in the judicial process. Jurors are compensated for their time with a token amount, and must do their best to find the truth in the arguments presented by the prosecutor and defense lawyers.