There are so many LHSAA items to address and a limited amount of space to do it in.
But you know me, I’ll give it my best shot. So here goes:
Let’s start with sportsmanship and what happened in the Class 2A boys basketball title game between Riverside Academy and Lakeview.
It was an embarrassment for the schools involved and the LHSAA. Because I was working on another game story away from the court, I only witnessed the final 7 minutes, 45 seconds in person.
I did see a player make obscenity-laced comments to those seated at the press table during several trips up and down the court.
I missed the pregame chest bumping, other taunting and an official in the crew being replaced at halftime. And I’m glad I missed the postgame news conference in which one team said intimidation is part of their game.
Also, crowd-related issues made new LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine consider clearing the facility.
Bonine said he returned to the LHSAA office to get a cup of coffee after the pregame presentations and looked up at the live video feed to hear announcers discussing the antics before the tip-off.
“People are going to find out very quickly that I have a low tolerance for knuckleheads,” Bonine said last week before the LHSAA’s final classification meeting.
Hey, I’m mad too Eddie. Assistant executive director Keith Alexander told me earlier that week that the LHSAA may have to consider stiffer punishments for fighting and unsportsmanlike acts that fall into line with what colleges do.
Alexander said the game officials should have assessed Riverside and Lakeview with technical fouls before the opening tip and asserted themselves and taken control of the game from the opening tip.
This will be a great topic for the officials’ summer workshops. I’d like to see a group of coaches be invited to speak to the officials at those clinics.
There are some huge issues here. The LHSAA needs a zero-tolerance policy not just for players, both also for fans. It needs to be part of the LHSAA bylaws. Schools need to be proactive and post a code of conduct for fans and have security on site to enforce it. Coaches should have their own zero-tolerance policy.
Now on to state wrestling.
I don’t agree with the executive committee’s decision to send the LHSAA tourney to Bossier City for the next two years. Yes, the people are nice, the larger facility is free of charge and there are other financial incentives to reap.
But you’re sending the state tournament to a part of the state that only has 10 to 12 wrestling teams. I understand the Shreveport folks want to promote growth in the sport, and I think that’s marvelous.
Let them do it first by holding a large regular-season tournament like the Louisiana Classic and Deep South Bayou Duals in Baton Rouge or Lafayette’s Ken Cole Invitational.
Many wrestling programs are hand-to-mouth organizations that don’t get the financial support from their schools that major sports like football receive. That’s not a criticism, it’s a fact. Giving a coach a free hotel room is a drop in the bucket compared to paying for buses, hotel rooms and meals for up to three days.
Sure, the super powers will be there. They’d compete on Jupiter. You could lose the schools with smaller budgets, along with the casual fan willing drive an hour or 90 minutes but not three to five hours.
Finally, there’s classification and districting.
There are always some districting choices that make you go, “Hmm.” With 389 schools you’re not going to make everyone happy.
Granted, there are some travel-related issues to be sure. In most cases, the issue is not just where you play but also who you don’t want to play.
Maybe as a prelude to the next classification process the Rolling Stones Classic, “You Can’t Always get What You Want” should play in the background.
And that’s my take.