Is it possible for change to grow from a situation steeped in years of divisiveness?
That is the huge question the LHSAA is set to tackle again as the 2019-20 school year begins.
Plenty of people, including the students and coaches at 400 member LHSAA schools, need to know where they stand. And they need to be heard.
But that will not be easy with a large chorus of voices who often look to drown each other out when the subject of the LHSAA’s select and nonselect schools comes up.
All the talk and plans surrounding the select schools' move to host stand-alone championship events in split sports — football, boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball — has created another wave of negativity that threatens to drive the wedge between schools even deeper.
The timing could not be worse. Two months ago, the LHSAA’s executive committee charged Executive Director Eddie Bonine and his staff with developing at least two plans aimed at bringing LHSAA schools back together for unified championships. Another alternative is to prevent additional splintering of LHSAA schools and its resources.
But then timing and a lack of understanding of what LHSAA schools passed in January has been a big problem all along. Member principals, not just those from select schools, approved proposals that gave the LHSAA’s select schools the right to host their own championship events in the split sports.
It was a surprise when proposals for separate title events in each sport passed in January. An unfortunate period of inaction followed. Representatives from select schools did not meet to start formulating plans until April.
On July 29, a structure emerged when select-school representatives formed a committee as part of the Louisiana Select Association. The LSA is not recognized by the LHSAA as an affiliate organization, but it can provide structure for the championship events.
In reality, providing a structure for championship events is the one thing the LSA committee can and must do at this time. A football plan must be in place by the end of the month as the LSA promises.
Remember, select schools remain part of the LHSAA, though the formation of the LSA makes it look like the opposite. Hence the negativity, even as Catholic High Athletic Director J.P. Kelly, the LSA CEO, and others vow to work with the LHSAA to end the split that began in 2013 with football and grew to include the other sports in 2016.
Select schools would have been better served to form a championship events committee, leaving plans for an association on hold. Yes, the optics now are terrible. And the communication has been troublesome as both sides struggle to ask and answer questions about a kind of championship events the LHSAA has never had.
What does all this have to do with the LHSAA’s student/athletes and coaches? Plenty.
While the LHSAA is an organization in which school principals are its voting members, the student/athletes and the coaches give it three-dimensional life each day.
In addition to surveying principals to get their view on the current status of the split, surveys for coaches and student/athletes also are being done. I’ve been told unofficially that early returns on those surveys indicate a desire to reunite the LHSAA.
If that is true, those voices should be factored in when and if and it gets to the point where LHSAA principals vote on whether to reunite the LHSAA.
Is change possible? We’re waiting for the answer.
The Advocate sports staff seeks schedules for local/area football scrimmages and jamborees as soon as possible. Volleyball jamboree schedules also are needed.
Please submit schedules to Robin Fambrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.