The Bendigo Umpires Association won't "jump at shadows" in reaction to the AFL controversy surrounding umpire dissent.
The BUA's most experienced umpire and long-time umpiring coach, Dean Goodridge, said player behaviour towards umpires in the first weeks of the 2022 season had been encouraging, with few 50m penalties paid for dissent.
"At the start of the season AFL Victoria did say there'd be zero tolerance towards umpire dissent and umpire abuse,'' Goodridge said.
"Through the first few weeks it really hasn't been any different to the start of any other season.
"There's been a lot of education provided to clubs as to what dissent can look like. It doesn't have to be just verbal, it can be demonstrative through hand gestures or throwing a mouthguard into the ground or body language.
"We haven't had a report for umpire abuse once yet this year.
"I know there's been a couple of 50m penalties paid - one of which resulted in a late goal in the (HDFNL) Huntly-Leitchville game (one-point result) last week.
"Have I paid a 50m penalty for dissent? No, I haven't.
"We've spoken about it as a group, but we don't want to have an overreaction or to see umpires jump at shadows."
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Goodridge warned players that individual umpires have different tolerance levels when it comes to interactions with players on the field.
"It all comes down to people taking it differently because people have different tolerance levels towards it,'' he said.
"I certainly don't discourage dialogue between players and umpires, but in a respectful way.
"If you're throwing your hands in the air questioning a call that could be deemed to be demonstrative then you're treading a fine line."
Goodridge said communication with players was one of the most important aspects of umpiring.
"Building relationships with players is one of the greatest things an umpire can do,'' he said.
"An umpire that has poor relationships with players is always going to struggle. You can have some friendly banter...as long as it's respectful.
"Communication is the key to being a good umpire. You don't want to have a situation where players are too scared to ask a question in a respectful manner.
"Umpires have to speak to players and club officials in a respectful manner as well."
An umpire for more than 30 years, Goodridge said the modern footballer showed greater respect for the whistleblowers than when he took up the role.
"It's better than what it was when I was umpiring suburban football in Melbourne (in the mid to late 1980s),'' he said.
"Football, in general, has cleaned up since then because you don't have the off the ball incidents that we had back then."
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