Have you ever wished for a second chance to complete an important task?
If you have, then you understand how the key players involved in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s quest to get pay raises for contest officials felt.
When 105 principals attended Friday’s special-called meeting held locally at Woodlawn High, the LHSAA had its quorum for another vote on the pay raises.
The fact that those principals overwhelmingly approved pay raises for officials in seven sports probably came as a surprise and maybe even a shock to some. After all, the same proposals failed at the LHSAA’s convention in January.
But neither side has time to pat themselves or each other on the back. Both sides are now charged with fulfilling some of the promises that go with the pay raises for officials in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling.
Officials on hand for the meeting said they’re ready to get to work.
That means understanding and preparing to meet the new certification guidelines for those who officiate football, basketball, baseball and softball.
In addition to certification guidelines tied to different levels of pay, officials will also be asked to develop their own form of chemistry and consistency. The goal is to see calls made on a football field or a gym floor in Monroe or Shreveport to be as much like those made in Lafayette, Baton Rouge or New Orleans as possible. That is no easy task.
The challenge facing the LHSAA’s executive committee and its member principals is no piece of cake, either. Neither side wants the kind of labor pains experienced over the past few months.
In order to do that, the LHSAA plans to appoint a committee made up of principals, coaches and officials to devise a plan for increasing pay gradually.
Look for those raises to be based on incentives such as continued professional development.
The pay raises for officials have been lauded as a win-win for both the officials and the student-athletes. Does Friday’s vote automatically mean all is well in the world of the LHSAA and its officials?
Well, not exactly.
Credit LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson and Assistant Executive Director Keith Alexander for breaking down the potential added costs per sport.
They even provided suggestions for cutting costs, such as getting staffers to call subvarsity games or using officials who are not certified at the highest level.
Like it or not, paying officials more will be a financial hardship for a number of schools, including some in the metro Baton Rouge area.
These schools may wind up playing fewer home games. Some could even wind up dropping sports if funding cannot be found.
Could it simply be the cost of doing business in 2011? I sure hope not.
Yes, the work is far from over for everyone involved.