SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The high school football season begins one week from Friday night, but one referee association is prepared to boycott the season over pay.
The Florida High School Athletic Association caps the pay rate at 65-dollars for each game plus travel expenses. The South Gulf Football Officials Association says they’re just not making enough - only receiving two small pay increases over the past 15 years.
If the boycott continues, it will affect many Suncoast teams. It will especially be tough for North Port High School. Athletic Director Tony Miller is hoping to see this lockout end. “We’re hopeful that it’s going to work out. We’re starting to plan ahead. If it doesn’t work out, there are different things we can do,” explained Miller.
And Sarasota District athletic director James Slaton says he’s prepared in the event the boycott goes through next week. “One of those plans could be that North Port hosts those games. Another would be using outside officials associations and it would be up to Lee County to decide how they would do that,” said Slaton.
For Miller, his coaching staff and his players, he says it’s just a roadblock that will build character.
“You’re still game planning against the team that you’re looking at. So whether you play at home or on the road, you’re still playing the same players, you’re playing the same offense and special teams matchups. You’re still game planning and the only thing that changes is the venue and the color of the uniform,” said Miller.
The Florida High School Athletic Association says if the association doesn’t budge, they’ll help schools fill those referee spots. The FHSAA also says if the association doesn’t lift the boycott by next Friday, they could be in jeopardy of losing the license to officiate in the state of Florida.