Will High School Football Start on Time? – From the Bird’s Nest
Last Thursday, Greg Gautreaux, football assignment secretary for the Lafayette Officials Association and his son Daniel, a member of the executive committee of the Louisiana High School Officials Association (and, a very good official in his own right), were on my radio program. They, of course, were there to talk about the standoff between the LHSOA and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
Today, Lee Bellard, the principal of Church Point High School and a former coach, was on the program. While Bellard supports the officials in their quest for a pay raise, he also hears what other principals, many of whom are opposed to a pay raise, have to say about the matter.
Here's where we stand right now.
OFFICIALS WANT MORE MONEY...AND THEY WANT IT IN WRITING---They say promises have been made and promises broken many times over. And, they've gotten to the point where trust is just a five letter word. They want signed contracts, not with the LHSAA but with the principals of the member schools. The principals, after all, are the ones who vote. The LHSAA just works for them.
THE LHSAA WANTS TO BE THE MEDIATOR---New Executive Director Eddie Bonine is asking the officials to work the football and volleyball season. He'd like the officials to put off any decisions until January when the principals are set to meet again. The officials are tired of being told to wait.
PRINCIPALS HAVE LHSAA BYLAWS TO FOLLOW - The principals say it would be against LHSAA bylaws to enter into private contracts with officials. The bylaws are pretty clear in that regard.
SOME PRINCIPALS HAVE A BIT OF A CHIP ON THEIR SHOULDER--Many stood and applauded back in January when the majority voted to take away half pay for baseball umpires if games get rained out. No one likes to be shown up.
Tuesday, the Lafayette officials voted to not work high school football games this season without a pay raise and signed contracts. The principals cannot acquiesce without meeting and voting on it and it simply isn't feasible to try and get everyone together for a special meeting.
I think this is called a standoff.
Right now, no one seems willing to compromise. And, unless that changes, it's doubtful anything is going to get worked out before the Jamborees, scheduled for the final weekend in August.
So, is there a solution? Bellard thinks so.
Principals can allow the executive committee the option of approving raises for the remainder of the 2015 calendar year in all sports until the principals meet in January. At that time, the vote on changing bylaws allowing officials to enter into contracts with member schools. Or, Bonine can convince the principals to make the raises permanent.
It's interesting to note, if you ask officials why they officiate, they'll tell you the love of the game, the opportunity to be involved with the game and making high school sports the best they can be for the student-athlete and the fans the best it can be.
Principals will tell you their responsibility, and their reason for being educators to begin with, is for the students.
Okay, so the kids are a priority for both....or so they say.
Yet, officials are feeling disrespected. Principals want to remind everyone they are in charge. Does THAT sound like it's "for the kids?"
Not to me.
The only way this is going to get resolved is for the two sides to realize it's not about them. Bellard's idea of the principals giving the executive committee authority to approve the raises for this fall is a good compromise. And, if that happens, the officials must compromise and realize good faith is, indeed, being shown and that idea of signed contracts can wait until the principals' meeting in January.
If the two sides are serious about putting the kids first, they'll get this done.
I asked Bellard today if he thought high school football would be played in week one. He said no. He said it wouldn't take that long and the jamborees would be played.
Bellard believes, as I do, that the kids will eventually come first.