Our basketball referees are on strike. It seems that the LSHAA turned down a pay raise for them, so they got pissed off and are conducting a work stoppage, at least in four districts across Louisiana. Alexandria is a part of one striking district.
Louisiana basketball refs are the lowest paid in the nation. They knew that when they took the job. Rather than agitate for higher pay before the season, they waited until late in the season to make an issue of it.
Do the ref's deserve better pay? Let me submit the facts to a candid world and you make make the decision. Referees generally work three games per night, and they're paid $31.00 per game, with a small travel stipend. So, a referee at a high school basketball game can expect to be paid $93.00 for a night's work. They want to increase the salary to $40.00 per game, for a grand total of $120.00 per night. Whoopee. I can certainly understand the rationale for more money. Hell, I'd like to make more money.
However, the referees are just one part of a game. To conduct a successful high school basketball game, you need two teams, the coaching staffs, duty school personnel to work the doors, a janitor on hand to clean up spills. You also need personnel to run the concession stand and generally there are police officers there to keep the peace. We need the fans, who pay for the tickets, we need the fans most of all. Without the fans, we can't do any of this, because basketball has to pay its own way.
The referees don't have any responsibility but the conduct of the game. That's it. They show up for the first game, and leave immediately after the last game. At the schools I'm familiar with, a ref gets to the school at about 5:00 and leaves before 9:00. Less than four hours and they're the first ones out of the door. This is part-time work for them and we're glad to see them go.
We thought that we could get referees from other parts of the state to work scheduled game, so that EVERYONE ELSE wouldn't have to adjust their schedules. No, we've got to use these refs or none at all, so we're having to re-adjust everything to cater to the whims of the spoiled referees. It seems that they don't care about the kids, the schools, the pending playoffs, they don't care about anything but their paychecks. They've shown their true colors and deserve to be treated with the contempt they've shown for the rest of us.
The referees in the Alexandria Officials Association are acting like spoiled brats. We should disband the whole organization and start over with folks who care about more than a paycheck.