Would you like your high school football with a side of LHSAA? Or is it the LHSAA with a side of football?
The two separate, yet related items have given the start of the 2019 sports seasons a bit of an odd feel. For me, it’s like accidentally putting a shoe on the wrong foot. Or taking off toward a destination without knowing which route to take.
Select schools are left to ponder an offer to come back together for the football titles games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Dec. 12-14. The LHSAA’s executive committee extended that offer last week during its fall meeting, which also extends the questions about what happens next. Select schools have two weeks to provide their answer.
Things are open-ended, or incomplete, depending on your viewpoint. So much of what the LHSAA and its schools do is scripted from year to year. Even the variations of the split have been scripted, based on votes in January and the up to 11 months to plan. The January vote to allow select schools to host stand-alone title events changed that.
In the regular-season scheme of things, nothing changes. All schools will play together in the regular season just as they have since 2013. It was the right of the LHSAA’s select schools to take control of their championship events in the split sports, football boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball.
Nothing in LHSAA land exists in a vacuum. The time it took for the select schools to form a structure in the form of the Louisiana Select Association took time and also led to friction within the LHSAA, which won’t recognize the LSA, since it does not service all schools.
Too many times in this process, the cart has been put before the horse. And remember, it is harder to push than it is to pull, especially with the baggage both sides have.
There was collaboration at last week’s executive committee meeting on multiple topics, which was good to see. The LHSAA appears ready to take some potential plans to bring select/nonselect off Executive Director Eddie Bonine’s “white board” and put them out there for a vote to unify its 400 schools.
In June, the executive committee charged Bonine and his staff with finding ways to bring the association back together or find ways to prevent any additional split. Football 2019 must be resolved first.
Plenty is at stake. The LHSAA's status with select schools could hang in the balance. The LHSAA’s relationship with its title sponsor, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, also appears to be dangling. The LHSAA and the Sugar Bowl are in the final year of their contract.
As enthralled as both sides are in all of this, there are a couple of facts they should keep in mind. A majority of the “public” doesn’t get the whole split thing. It also takes the spotlight off the LHSAA's greatest asset, its student- athletes. But is it enough to push them away from high school sports? Hard to say.
The select schools have reasons they want to move away from the current LHSAA championship events. Many of them are financial. However, the Superdome remains the ultimate destination students and fans want to go to.
Like it or not, you are who you are. And since 1981, the LHSAA is a group that holds its football championships at the Superdome. Even with nine title games — five nonselect and four select — that hasn’t changed.
It is time to write the ending for 2019. And move on to the next chapter, whatever that will be.