I’ve written multiple pieces this school year touching on the LHSAA’s process for establishing rules and bylaws and adopting the rules of the game from our parent organization—the National Federation of High School Associations.
These processes help our association uphold its most important missions: the preservation of interscholastic athletics as well as the sanctity of sportsmanship and fair play for our student-athletes, whom we are charged to protect.
One of the benefits our members enjoy is a democratic rules-making process, through which all schools—large or small, public or nonpublic, rural or urban—may participate and offer insight for the governance of Louisiana’s interscholastic athletics. Schools have ample representation and opportunity to voice support or concerns about any proposed rules regarding eligibility requirements, transfers, playing rules, classification and other issues.
Rules are proposed and votes are tallied during the general business meeting of our annual convention, which is held every January. School principals may propose rule changes until November 15 each year, and all schools are provided with schedules and agendas well in advance of the class and general business meetings, at which they are granted one vote on each proposal.
Eligibility rule change proposals are tabled for a year unless two-thirds of members present call the changes up immediately. These and all other general matters, including classification rules, need only a majority vote to pass.
I strongly disagree with the tenet that “Rules are made to be broken,” but unfortunately such sentiments aren’t always shared, and sometimes schools bend or break the rules when it promises to serve them well in competition. These schools place winning above the sanctity of fair competition and above respect for the rules they themselves have approved, and they may open lawsuits to overturn certain rules.
Fortunately, other states have experienced such legal action against these rules more so than we have in Louisiana, but this litigation is very disturbing.
More often than not, the lawsuits were brought about by the very parties who established these rules! Principals, coaches and schools presented a façade by supporting fair and equitable play during the rules-making process, but when it came down to abiding by those rules or gaining a competitive edge by bending or breaking them, they chose the latter.
This reversal goes against the very foundations of our association and corrupts the spirit of sportsmanship, the positive development of the student-athlete and interscholastic relations.
After more than eight decades of existence, our association stands firm in the belief that the most effective and efficient way to direct and fairly regulate interscholastic athletics is to make the process as democratic as possible and allow all of our member schools the ability and opportunity to voice their opinions.
Kenny Henderson is the Executive Director of the LHSAA.