Eddie Bonine has repeatedly said he’s a “white board” kind of guy. Those words have probably elicited a few snickers from skeptics around the state.
“Do they make one that big?”
“Does the LHSAA own stock in a company that makes dry-erase markers?”
Bonine, the LHSAA’s incoming executive director, might have to use multiple white boards as he tackles the organization’s private vs. public school issues.
Friday’s vote against extending the select/nonselect playoff split past football amounted to a vote of confidence for Bonine, who takes over on March 1.
One of Bonine’s analogies about white boards may be prophetic as the LHSAA looks to find solutions — not just a quick fix — to its issues.
“The thing about a white board is you can write down your ideas,” Bonine said. “And if those things don’t work you can erase them and start over. I’m not afraid to do that.
“But you always use a dry-erase marker. Why? If you use a permanent marker, it’ll ruin the white board. And it takes a lot of work to clean a white board after that.”
Bonine’s task now is similar to cleaning a white board stained by a permanent marker.
Ask advocates of LHSAA split championships to name three things at the heart of public vs. private schools issues and the list would look like this:
- Private schools’ open admission policies and playoff success.
- Recruiting of student/athletes by other schools, a group that can include private, public, laboratory and charter schools.
- Influences by club and AAU offseason teams.
All three are valid points Bonine and the “think tank” committee he plans to appoint must address. Many High School Principal Norman Booker III and John Curtis football coach J.T. Curtis should be the first people appointed to the committee. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a legislator included on the committee.
Those appointments would put three major players in this LHSAA saga at the table. Booker is vocal about wanting to split all sports. The success of Curtis’ football program is often cited as a reason a split was needed. Legislators want the LHSAA to get its act together, meaning finding a way to keep its schools together.
That brings me to three questions that also must be addressed before the LHSAA can move forward.
- Is winning championships the most important goal for LHSAA schools?
- What is a level playing field, and can you find it?
- Does perception always equal reality?
One of my pet peeves with some LHSAA schools is this — they’d rather complain about those breaking the rules rather than reporting them. I get the fact that schools were frustrated by a lack of enforcement of rules violations in recent years.
With Bonine in charge, now’s your chance. Report what you believe are rules violations. Schools reporting violations should get a report back from the LHSAA on what was or wasn’t found.
All this goes to perception being accepted as reality. When someone believes there’s a rules violation, there won’t always be one. The LHSAA and its member schools need to catalog and categorize facts. And impose sanctions. It wouldn’t hurt to talk to some parents about the school choices they make.
Should private and public schools be guaranteed championships? Or should the best teams win? I had a coach tell me that a certain school doesn’t cheat, but people “get tired of losing to them.” Yes, a split would “fix” that.
I didn’t have an answer for that. And I’m not sure what a level playing field is. Is it only level if your team can win a trophy?
But I do know what a stained white board looks like. There are years of attitudes and perceptions that will be tough to cleanse, much like a stained white board.
I’d rather see a white board in the room instead of a white elephant of festering issues that aren’t addressed.
Follow Robin Fambrough on Twitter @FambroughAdv