If you have been to an official LHSAA event at any point in the last 20 years, there is no doubt that you have seen sponsorship signage on or near the field of play and have heard us thank our generous corporate sponsors for their contributions. Without these sponsorships, none of those events would have been possible.
The LHSAA sponsorship program has grown and evolved since its inception in the 1980s, when the Association made a bold maneuver by forging the first-ever national corporate sponsorship agreement with the emerging sports drink powerhouse, Gatorade, which agreed to become the title sponsor of the Louisiana state football championship. Formerly known as the Gatorade Superdome Classic, the championship event served as a precursor for a heightened emphasis on securing partnerships for LHSAA programs and events.
In the 1990s, the Association began an active campaign to secure corporate sponsorships to help offset the rising administrative and logistical costs to maintain day-to-day operations. Since then, sponsors and partners have played important roles in facilitating the academic development and protecting the health and well-being of Louisiana's student-athletes, as well as fostering a greater public participation in the regular seasons and state championships of LHSAA-sanctioned sports.
Some have questioned why the LHSAA secures corporate partnerships in the first place. The answer is simple: these sponsorships are absolutely necessary.
Often, the public eye fails to recognize many operating costs associated with the execution of LHSAA-sanctioned athletic events, state championship events and All-Star Games. The industry of sports has grown and changed, and inevitably accompanying this growth is a general increase in costs.
These costs include facility maintenance and operations, security, trophies and awards, equipment and other aspects that comprise a quality sporting event and ensure that our participating student-athletes get the most out of their experiences.
Most importantly, sponsorships mitigate the operational costs that are passed to member institutions, allowing them to allocate their funding to other areas of need.
Revenue generated through corporate sponsorships also finances the Academic All-State Program, the purchase of all-star game uniforms and equipment and 28 annual scholarships for student-athletes, totaling $32,000.
These partnerships have allowed the LHSAA to dramatically expand the promotion of the Association's messages and televising of state championship events—an endeavor that began more than a decade ago.
The LHSAA holds a sincere debt of gratitude to the companies who support us in our mission to provide the best possible development and interscholastic athletic opportunities for Louisiana's student-athletes and future leaders.
Their financial and institutional support are critical for us to maintain the quality, excellence and day-to-day operations of our programs.
Kenny Henderson is the Executive Director of the LHSAA.