Official weighs in on potential LHSOA strike

Called the show today after 5 and you had changed to Mike Detillier, so I missed the chance to get with—and on—you about your take on the LHSOA and Mr. Bonine.

My Bona Fides: I am a 40+ year working HS (LHSAA) and College official, in six sports: Volleyball, Basketball, Baseball, Indoor and Outdoor Track, and Cross Country.
I worked in the State Championships this season in all six of these sports. I have also worked in the NCAA tournament in basketball, Conference tournaments in basketball, and in track in
the Olympic Trials, nine NCAA National Meets, and will be doing so as long as they’ll have me.

My personal position about officiating: it is the second greatest part-time avocation the world. The first is being a bartender in a college town. I’ve been lucky to be both.

It is, as I said, an avocation, for 99% of officials. It can be a great real-life job for those at the very top of the college and professional ranks. And, I have made money at every level, except track and
cross country, which do not pay officials at all on most levels. For example: nearly 95% of the LSU Track and Field Officials Association members who work the LHSAA Indoor and Outdoor State Championship
meets every year are volunteer officials, who do it because they love the sport, and the sport would not exist if the LHSAA or LSU had to pay the 80-100 people a day any type of fee to work the meet.

Let me start here: this situation is not about the kids. Let me explain please.

The LHSAA is not about the kids. It is an organization established to promote reasonably fair and equitable athletic competition between schools. Rules and rule books.
The LHSOA is not about the kids. It is an organization trying to establish itself as a representative of officials who work under the rules of those athletic competition. Rules and rule books.
The kids are only about the games. The other two are about helping to organize the games, but neither represents the kids, NOR should they represent the kids.

Yes, the kids are the ones to suffer when the adults find a way not to act in a manner supportive of the kids, but, neither of these groups represent the kids.
When Mr. Bonine says “(he) represents the kids” he is building a big straw man argument. He is the paid representative of the LHSAA, who represents schools, not kids.

Now, let’s take apart the “it’s about the kids argument.”
Mr. Bonine was appointed just after the principals of the LHSAA, representing the schools, after NO discussion, voted overwhelmingly to reject their own Executive Committee’s recommendation of a pay raise
for basketball and volleyball officials AGAIN, after the ExComm’s recommendations to the officials was honored by the officials. Was that about the kids, or something else?
ON THAT SAME DAY, in the next vote, the principals of the LHSAA, representing the schools, after NO discussion, voted overwhelmingly to approve a CUT IN PAY for baseball and softball officials involved in
travel/rainout games. The same principals then stood and applauded their decision. Was this about the kids, or something else?

Baseball and softball officials wanted to walk out at that time. Was this about the kids, or something else?

Mr. Bonine, along with Mr. Keith Alexander, the Assistant Executive Director and in charge of officals, got together and worked with the representatives of baseball and softball to intercede in the work stoppage. This may,
and I repeat, just may, have been about the kids, since the season was so near. But, it could be argued that it was not about the kids. However, this was somewhere near the 10th time the principals had voted either to
deny a raise or give a cut in pay over the last 25 years. Remember, there has only been two pay raises since 1990, and NEVER ONE VOTED IN REGULAR SESSION. Were those votes about the kids, or something else?

Now, we have reached the point where we are: officials are saying “if you don’t want to pay us a reasonable amount, we will choose not to work.” Isn’t this EXACTLY the point you made on the air Thursday? “If you don’t want
to work for the pay, don’t work.” Your words. I could counter your words this way: “If you don’t want to pay officials a reasonable amount, don’t. Two things will happen. You will not have officials, and you will not have ANY decent officials.” I can also counter your words this way: “If you can’t afford to have the sport, don’t.”

Officials pay has gone up about 15% or so in the last 25 years. The cost of a football helmet is about 50% higher. Baseballs, about 50%. Basketball shoes, about 150%. Police and security, 200%. Admission fees, 100-150%.
Check the numbers. I may be off, but I won’t be off much, and I’ll be on the low end. Why is that first line true?

Because the principals are not about the kids, but they are about having control of this issue. They publicly say “you cannot be independent contractors, and we cannot sign an independent contractor agreement with you,” but, every year, in every sport, I sign a contract with the LHSAA which says, right on the front, that “(I am) an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. Ok, I’ll bite. Which is it? Because, if it’s that I am not, then I choose not to work for the fee they want to pay. If I am, I absolutely have the right to tell them what amount I will work for, and they can choose, or not choose, to pay that amount.

As an official, I work at their discretion, and by my choice. I am choosing to take your advise: I will not work for the fee they are requiring. I am asking them for more. I am asking for only the third raise in 25 years.

Finally, you asked about how to pay for the raise. How have the schools paid for all of the other increases in costs, almost all of which they have absolutely no control over? They found the money. But, in this case, the principals, until now, have had TOTAL CONTROL over officials’ fees. And, they have shown that the issue for them is not about the kids. IT IS ABOUT THE MONEY. We officials, for the last 25 years, have continued to take the grief that the principals have sent our way, and worked the games anyway. SO, IF THAT IS TRUE, we have been the ones that have done it in a manner that at least, on the surface, is about the kids. We have taken the insults, and rejections, and still worked the games. AND, over the last 8 years, done this while working with the LHSAA ExComm to improve testing, training, and preparation, AND STILL GOT REJECTED BY THE PRINCIPALS!!!

So, are the LHSAA, and their representative, Mr. Bonine, ‘’’REALLY”” about the kids, or are they about something else here?

Hope this wasn’t toooooooo long. Would love to talk this out with you on the air. I’ll try to get to you Friday, but, I may be working a baseball game, for the love of officiating.

Lynn Roberts
Marrero, LA