This season, fall Friday nights in Louisiana could have a drastic change.
The Alexandria Football Officials Association (AFOA) — the Alexandria chapter of the LHSOA — voted Wednesday night to not call games this fall unless there is a pay increase prior to the start of the season.
“We are the lowest of all the states as far as pay is concerned,” AFOA vice president Sam Forester said.
Currently, a lower-rated football official earns $65 per game, while a highly-rated one earns $85. The LHSOA wants an increase of $5 per game, which comes to $30 per game for a six-person staff.
“We’re some of the highest educated officials across the United States,” Forester said.
While a possible raise will help with growing registration fees, an increase was rejected in January at the Louisiana Principals Association (LPA) meeting.
In that meeting, the LPA also voted to remove a provision which allowed baseball and softball umpires to receive half of a standard game check if they arrived to a game, but it was rained out.
This nearly caused officials to walk out prior to the baseball season in February, but the umpires did not walk out, opting to wait until May for a resolution.
“We have major respect with the Principals Association,” Forester said. “But there would be an impact (if we walked out). We don’t want to do this, but we may have to.”
Since 1990, the LHSOA has only seen two pay increases — in 2007 and 2011 — with the LPA denying raises at annual meetings, but eventually accepting the raises in special meetings.
According to its website, a list of promises to the LHSOA were made this year, but broken including bi-annual pay increases, funding and tools to support improved officiating and a seat on the LHSAA executive committee.
Although it looks bleak, there is some hope that a deal can be reached in time for the regular season, which begins Sept. 4 — a week after jamborees begin.
“We do expect to play,” Forester said. “But we also want our respect.”