Do AISA schools get what they pay for?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2006

Having covered high school sporting events for almost 20 years now, I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

I've covered a basketball game where the only people in the gymnasium during the game were the players, coaches and referees.

I've covered a high school football game that had to be postponed because lightning struck one of the main light poles and knocked the lights out during the game.

I've covered high school basketball where you never heard the squeak of the shoes for the carpet on the floor, which was the playing surface.

I've seen some good officiating over the years, and I've seen the very worst.

Monday night at Fort Dale had to have been one of the worst officiated games that I've seen in recent years.

The game, which took on a physical tone, took a turn in the second period when Fort Dale's Davis Watts was escorted off the floor after suffering a concussion from his head being driven into the floor with an accidental elbow.

The incident, itself, seemed to be a simple accident, but one wonders if the game should have been that physical in the first place.

Referees are like doctors in most people's view. We look for them to be perfect in everything they do. But the reality of it all is that they, like doctors, are not perfect - just

like journalists.

But a mother brought up a good point this week when she drew the conclusion that you get what you pay for when it comes to officials.

That maybe true.

According to the Alabama High School Athletic Association winter sports handbook an official, who is part of a three-man, crew is paid $40 per game at the varsity level. Plus they are reimbursed up to 36 cents per mile for travel.

That may seem like a lot, but it really isn't.

Referees at the Alabama Independent School Association make $2 per game less with a two-man crew and a couple cents less in mileage.

So are the AISA schools getting what they pay for?

It seems so.

And it doesn't look like the pay for referees will go up anytime soon among private schools because they can't afford it, according to AISA athletic director Darrell Self.

&#8220The support at some of our schools is not what it used to be anymore,” Self said. &#8220There are some schools that just don't get the draw like others within the association, and I don't understand why.”

Self said that coaches from around the association have lobbied for three-man crews, especially for varsity boys and girls games. But Self said that an extra $80 would just kill gate receipts.

There may not be a simple remedy for better officiating, and more money may not be the answer.

If there is an answer to better officiating, maybe officials need to be more accountable for their work like they are at the college and professional ranks.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.