Sports

After further review, refs deserve a raise — Our View (link to article)

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Hold on football fans, we have a flag on the play. Here’s the signal from the referees — it’s unsportsmanlike conduct against the Louisiana Principals Association.

The reason? The LPA rejected a plan to increase the pay for local high school football officials by $5 per game. For a standard six-man crew, that works out to an extra $30 per game.

On more than one occasion we have heard fans, after watching an official be screamed at all night by coaches and parents, make the comment “You couldn’t pay me enough to do that job.” Now, it appears the officials are coming to that same conclusion.

The Alexandria Football Officials Association (AFOA) — the Alexandria chapter of the Louisiana High School Officials Association — voted Wednesday night to not call games this fall unless there is a pay increase prior to the start of the season.

Currently, a lower-rated football official earns $65 per game, while a highly-rated one earns $85. A quick search of national fees shows per game rates for varsity football games range from $70-$100 per game. Ranges vary by region. Surprisingly, the South, where high school football is practically a religion, tends to have the lowest paid officials. Michigan and Pennsylvania are among the highest.

Most local sports officials will tell you they don’t do it for the money, they do it for the kids, the love of the game and the fun of being on the field. But the fact is they have to finance that passion out of their own pocket. Football referees, like those in basketball, baseball and other officiated sports, are responsible for buying their own uniforms and equipment. Everything, from the whistle to the penalty flag, is bought by the official.

On top of that, memberships to sports organizations usually come with fees, as do certification exams and registrations. On average, a high school football official can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $250 to get started.

It’s also worth noting, especially with football, the increased attention and expertise we expect of officials when it comes to player safety. Traumatic brain injury — concussions — are a significant concern in youth sports. In Louisiana, heat and humidity also present significant issues with dehydration. While coaches have the ultimate responsibility, parents expect officials to be just as knowledgeable of the warning signs and to help maintain player safety.

Players deserve the most qualified officials available, and that costs money. So, after further review, we believe it’s time the principals step up and pay them what they are worth.

Click here to read the article on the The TownTalk website.

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