When they square off in a ring with officials, it is called boxing.
So we understand the importance of having officials at sporting events.
Tuesday night across a lot of the state, basketball gyms were dark and empty as basketball officials from Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Alexandria and Monroe refused to work the scheduled games.
The problem arose when principals voted last week at the LHSAA convention not to give the officials a pay raise for the 2011-12 school year.
Proposed basketball pay for registered officials would have gone from $33 to $35 per game, $34 to $37 a game for approved officials and $36 to $45 for certified officials.
But the principals were against the officials first raise since 2007 and then the walk-outs started with at least 10 of the state’s 14 officials’ associations not working games Tuesday night.
The officials’ associations sign contracts with the schools but each referee works as an independent contractor and many decided to take the night off in protest to the LHSAA vote.
One top basketball official told the Baton Rouge paper - “This is a sad day. I think the principals, other administrators and the officials have let the high school athletes down.”
For sure someone let them down.
But I worked Tuesday night as I watched Eunice High take on Northwest with a full staff of referees from the Opelousas association and they worked both games in a professional manner.
It was great to see them work and the fans treat them with the usual responses to “bad calls.”
While many of the contests were stopped outside the parish, I was happy that the local association chose to work and let the games continue - and honor their contracts with the schools.
The LHSAA executive committee had an emergency 2 1/2 hour meeting on Wednesday with representatives from the officials associations to discuss the issues.
The principals will hold a special meeting on June 3 and will be asked to vote again on the proposed raises beginning in 2011-12 for officials in seven sports including basketball.
It appears the LHSAA executive committee is in favor of a pay raise for the officials, they just have to convince enough principals to change their minds.
I understand the principal’s predicament especially when the officials’ fees are more than what they collected at the gate. The idea of a pay increase only puts the athletic programs into a tighter financial constraints.
Earning the respect of the principals will go a long way toward the officials getting a raise - as many coaches and principals feel they are not getting their money’s worth now with some of the referees.
But after every game, one group leaves happy with the way the game was called while the other group feels “robbed” by the officials.
Hopefully this issue can be resolved with the results that can make both officials and principals happy.
Because a coach will never be happy with a referee.
But the local referees earned my respect Tuesday by covering the local games when their colleagues around the state refused to work.