USATT recently made the process to apply to become a Club Umpire much easier and simpler, all on line. The Club Umpire examination is even open book! So, why be an umpire?
I feel that everyone finds their own reasons. I personally never had any intention or idea to be an umpire, let alone International Umpire. My local club hosted a USATT sanctioned tournament and needed an umpire. I agreed, took the open book test, and, voila, Club Umpire! Thankfully, nothing happened at the tournament needing umpire help and I promptly forgot about umpiring.
Until a few months later, I had an injury and had to take three months off from playing. After two weeks of no table tennis, I was going nuts! So, I decided to go to tournaments anyway and at least spectate and, oh yes, offer to serve as an umpire, if needed. In only a few tournaments where I served as an umpire, I was hooked. I really enjoyed getting out on the court and having the “best seat in the house”. I eventually decided to pursue advanced umpire skills and ratings, through Regional, National, and International Umpire levels and, finally, “Blue Badge” certification. And I have truly enjoyed myself along the way.
What’s so great about umpiring? Even if you never pursue a rating higher than Club Umpire, you get much improved knowledge of the game and the rules which will help you as a player or coach. And, as noted above, you get a great seat close to the action. You also serve your fellow players and help them enjoy our sport. It’s a good feeling.
Decide you like umpiring and want to do more? It is literally a whole wide world out there. Aside from the usual local events, there are “major” US tournaments which need umpires. For many major US tournaments, particularly the US Nationals and US Open, umpires normally receive "hospitality", a hotel room and meal money. The US Nationals and US Open are a lot of fun. Achieve International Umpire and ITTF tournaments become possible. I have truly enjoyed the tournaments, the players, the high level of play, and visiting many places around the world. Aside from regular Pro Tour events, I have umpired at an Olympics, two World Championships, and several World Cups. Believe me, live professional play, up close in person, is way better than any video or live cast! These players are just plain awesome.
Give umpiring a try. Starting at Club Umpire is easy, all on line and an open book test. If you stop there, you still get advanced knowledge of the game, see players from the best vantage point, and serve your table tennis friends. If you decide to go forward, there is lots of headroom and opportunity to view higher level play, travel, and participate in a higher level of the game than most of us could ever imagine.