We’re marching ever closer to the start of the high school football season nationwide, including in Florida. Yet those initial games could face trouble if a current simmering dispute over referee pay isn’t resolved.
As reported by the WINK news and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, referees in both Lee and Palm Beach Counties are actively protesting their working compensation, which runs $65 per game. In conjunction with the East Coast Football Officials Association, which includes Palm Beach County, and South Gulf Football Officials Association, home of Lee County, the officials in those counties have announced that they will not work preseason games, scheduled for Aug. 14-17, until their per game pay rate is addressed.
Referees in Broward County reportedly considered joining the two other counties but instead opted to work during the forthcoming preseason games. It is possible they could join the officials from the other counties once the season begins if the disagreement is not resolved, though for now Broward County officials seem set on participating as usual when the season starts later.
Per WINK, the officials’ $65 per game cap on fees has not been adjusted in five years. For their part, the officials asked for an across the board $10 increase in the per game cap and for the creation of a brand new officials committee.
According to WINK, some scrimmages and football clinics in Lee County were already canceled this week due to a lack of available officiating.
The cap on officials’ rates was established by the Florida High School Athletic Association. And while it has now come to a head — the referees who need more time and money will get to decide when the season’s games finally start with traditional referees.