2019 Joint IHSLL-ILOA Meeting – Tuesday, Feb 5

Hyatt Place, 925 Milwaukee, Boise – 6:30 PM, Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019

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The following is a copy of the letter to IHSLL Members about the upcoming joint meeting between IHSLL & ILOA concerning the 2019 Spring Season.

Good Afternoon IHSLL Members,

This past summer I conducted a survey that asked 2018 Team Presidents and Head Coaches for feedback of their level of satisfaction with the ILOA and the findings of that survey were concerning. Concerns about the lack of positive communication among coaches and officials and player safety were the top comments coming back from the survey. It’s been five months since the results of the survey came back and we discussed the findings with the IHSLL membership so I thought it would be best to provide an update on where things currently stand with the ILOA.

Prior to the Holiday break Russ and I set up a sit down meeting with the ILOA. The meeting lasted a little over two hours and the focus of the meeting was to emphasis the need to tighten up the way the game is currently being played at the High School level. We are seeing to many concussions and injuries for a game that is supposed to be a contact sport, not a collision sport. The ILOA acknowledged our concerns and is in support of tightening up the games but they expressed a concern that by tightening up the games they are going to be even more scrutinized for enforcing what the league has asked of the ILOA in terms of player safety. It is very likely games will have an increased number of flags thrown and we certainly understand the concerns of the ILOA so we agreed to set the expectations going into the season that in the earlier part of the season (maybe longer depending on teams adaptability) expect an increase in the number of flags, there will undoubtedly be a learning curve.

Players are going to need to adjust to the way the game is going to be called and I can all but assure you there will be players that complain about penalties which is why Coaches are going to need to do their part in communicating to their players the rules and expectations of how games are going to be called moving forward. The officials can only make the calls for the things that have happened on the field, the coaches are the ones that have to prepare the players for how the game should be played so there is ownership on both sides of the table. Players should not engage with officials over calls, if players mouth off to officials the refs will not engage the players they will simply throw a flag. We had complaints in the survey that some officials were cussing at players and being very aggressive with players which is not acceptable and we have addressed this with the ILOA, we do not want officials cussing at our players and therefore if a player losses his composure and gets mouthy with an official he’ll be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, if the player persists a second flag for unsportsmanlike conduct will be thrown and may result in a potential ejection.

The lines of communication will be much improved for the 2019 season. Head Coaches expressed a major displeasure with not having an opportunity to voice their concerns with officials during games which essentially lead to some contentious interactions. Head Coaches will have a line of communication with the officials this year, any interactions with the officials need to be respectful. If a head coach wishes to take a timeout to have a respectful interaction between the officials they may do so. It’s our hope that by being able to voice concerns or frustrations it will de-escalate situations and this will help with keeping control of the games.

We also have plans for improving the spectator sidelines which I will let Russ address at the upcoming IHSLL meeting.

The path is being laid to improve relations with the ILOA, it’s going to be a long road but we are committed to player safety and to improving communications, simply put we have to so our league can prosper. We are scheduling a mandatory meeting between the ILOA and the Varsity Head Coaches and Team Presidents for Tuesday, February 5th at 6:30 PM at the Hyatt Place (925 N Milwaukee St, Boise, ID 83704). The IHSLL requires mandatory attendance from Varsity Head Coaches at a handful of meetings, this meeting will be one of them. The ILOA is also mandating this meeting for their officials. The meeting will be an opportunity to clear the air and set expectations with everyone in one room prior to the start of the season, something that is long overdue. The room that is reserved has limited space so please be sure that only your teams two representatives attend. The teams in the North and East we will set up a line for you guys to conference call in on so you can participate as well.

If we are going to successfully influence change in how our games are being officiated we all need to do our part which is going to include Team Presidents and Head Coaches explaining the state of the game to their programs. The flow of information needs to be make it’s way to spectators and therefore we are asking that Team Presidents either share this email with your program or discuss it at your programs next registration meeting where your parent body is present.

Tom Blanchard

IHSLL Vice-Commissioner