If you heard something that sounded like a cross between a wheezing noise and a sigh of relief late Friday night, it was probably me.
Processing what happened in high school sports during the final 72 hours of last week was mind-boggling. But it’s important to put it into perspective, so here goes.
You have to start with the LHSAA.
Settling the long-festering legal battle with the short-lived Varsity Event Management would have been a major story any other day for the LHSAA.
By the time the settlement news hit the media Thursday it was overshadowed by what happened a day earlier.
The LHSAA faced a landmark-ruling situation when three Caddo Parish Schools appealed playoff bans in multiple sports. A lesser-known rule that calls for a playoff ban when students are found to be enrolled in two athletic physical education classes came into play a week earlier.
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine ruled that C.E. Byrd, Southwood and Huntington and violated the rule. But on Wednesday the LHSAA’s executive committee overturned the ban.
Byrd and Southwood were each fined $1,000. Huntington wasn’t fined. Afterward, Bonine and others said the rule will be rewritten to reflect changes in how schools structure class time. A proposal is supposed to go on the January agenda.
I’m glad student-athletes were not punished for mistakes made by adults. The reaction from many others was swift and negative.
Several coaches and athletic directors joked that their schools should cut a check for $1,000 and put their athletes in two P.E. classes.
There are two huge takeaways from this. Though the Caddo schools successfully argued that they don’t gain a competitive edge, lots of folks don’t buy it.
The second one is the biggest. What about the rules enforcement the LHSAA mandated Bonine to do when he took over earlier this year? Some question what happened in the closed meeting, noting that the appeal was only supposed to be on whether the rule was applied correctly.
It was a landmark decision. Just not the one many people expected.
As for the VEM lawsuit, it’s over and the LHSAA can close the books on former Executive Director Kenny Henderson’s era. It’s time to move on.
Moves and moving were huge during those 72 hours. Did so many football games really need to be moved to Thursday?
Hindsight is always 20/20 and weather forecasts are what they are, predictions. We could have had the thunderstorms some expected. But I do believe this — instant notification of game changes on social media, etc., made it easier to make more game changes.
Kenny Almond’s decision to resign as boys basketball coach at Zachary on Friday was the move that caught many be surprise, including me. Is it a retirement? Well, I wouldn’t say that.
Here’s what I do have to say. You always know what you get when you walk into a gym with — a hard-nosed coach who had his players prepared and a team that competed until the final buzzer.
Almond won’t win a lot of popularity contests and he’s never afraid to tell you what he thinks. That’s why he doesn’t exchange Christmas cards with plenty of people, including the vast majority of basketball officials.
Know this — Kenny Almond has been a tireless advocate for high school basketball. And he’s an iconic figure in coaching in Louisiana with 892 wins.