My inbox fills up daily with news releases and other emails. Many are about high school sports.
By his own admission, Zachary Principal Joe LeBlanc doesn’t send a lot of emails that offer opinions.
LeBlanc coached at several schools and is a former basketball and baseball official.
He offers a little tough love for the LHSAA and Louisiana High School Officials Association during this portion of the email intended for the LHSOA:
“As a former athlete, coach and now as a principal, I am in complete agreement that you guys deserve a raise. I officiated high school basketball in Louisiana for a number of years and if you were to contact some of the Baton Rouge area guys they can tell you that I was a very active member of the Baton Rouge area umpires’ association. In short, I feel your pain and fully support you in your request for a raise. I voted for you guys the last time the issue of a raise came up and I was dumbfounded when the principals voted to do away with “show-up fees” for rainouts. That disagreement was to the degree that I instructed my coaches to continue paying umpires who showed up for rained out games without proper notification.
“What I don’t agree with is your group trying to hold us hostage when you know it is a direct violation of LHSAA rules for us to sign a contract with you. Now I am in one of two positions that requires me to make a choice I shouldn’t have to for the kids I’m representing as their principal. Either I sign the contract with you guys and break LHSAA rules or I follow the rules and risk not having officials. How childish of both groups. It seems to me both groups, the LHSOA and the LHSAA, are putting themselves before our kids and that should not be tolerated.
“Also, please realize this. If you continue to raise fees, some athletic programs are going to fold. The officials I have listened to in the past didn’t seem to care if that happened as long as they got the money they wanted. At no time did a group consider what could be done to help the programs that were not financially able to deal with these issues. Why not let the more inexperienced guys that are in training umpire these games for a lower fee? Surely a group of seasoned, caring and wiser officials could come up with a plan to help in this type of situation. Or is it all about the money?
“Both groups (LHSAA and LHSOA) involved are doing very little to be part of the solution and until the groups get together and deal with all of the issues, no solution is possible that will be in the kids’ best interest.”
How much you agree with LeBlanc’s viewpoint depends on which side of the fence you’re on. Team LHSAA or Team LHSOA?
This is no “Twilight” movie saga where people should choose teams — unless you’re choosing to be on the “Athletes” team.
I agree that officials deserve a raise. Promises of past raises have been broken. I also know raising the fees too high will be an added hardship for some schools.
Neither side is cast in a positive light.
Perception won’t get any better as the possibility of fall sports without recognized officials moves ever closer.
LSHOA President Paul LaRosa insists LHSAA rules and a school’s ability to pay officials are not his group’s concern.
Both sides insist they care about the athletes.
No more lip service. There’s no time for it. A solution ASAP is the only acceptable outcome.