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Cancellation of high school sports should include a refund of fees paid by officials | READER COMMENTARY

South Carroll's Courtney Vasquenza leads the team's charge across the field to celebrate with fans after their win over Hereford during the Class 2A girls lacrosse state championship game at Paint Branch High School last year. The recent decision to cancel high school spring sports means there will be no repeat performance in 2020.
South Carroll's Courtney Vasquenza leads the team's charge across the field to celebrate with fans after their win over Hereford during the Class 2A girls lacrosse state championship game at Paint Branch High School last year. The recent decision to cancel high school spring sports means there will be no repeat performance in 2020. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association made the announcement on Tuesday that it was officially canceling all secondary school spring sports seasons (“Maryland public schools spring sports season canceled due to coronavirus pandemic,” April 28). While I am sure this catches very few people by surprise, I want to shed light on an issue the MPSSAA has yet to address and of which many citizens are unaware.

I, along with hundreds of others, officiate spring sports for the MPSSAA, among other organizations. My sport happens to be women’s lacrosse, but MPSSAA guidelines follow every spring sport. Each season, the organization charges officials a registration fee to have the right to be assigned games to officiate. The fees range anywhere from $18 to $32, depending on the sport and whether you are already a member of another state’s board of officials, etc. The MPSSAA has billed officials for the 2020 season and to date, has not communicated a credit or refund to any officials. Most officials I know do have careers outside of officiating, but I know plenty of my colleagues who have made this their primary career. In these troubling times, who knows how much having to pay this fee would affect someone and their family? It’s an unnecessary fee paid for the right to have the opportunity to do work that was canceled by the state.

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Spring sports “official” contests were set to begin on March 20. Preseason scrimmages were well underway. If your child had a preseason scrimmage, you may have noticed that officials rotated in and out, got coaching from other officials, etc. In most cases, these contests were staffed by volunteer officials to prep for the season, or by new officials as part of their training. These games are, for the most part, unpaid outings. For lacrosse, they represent a necessary part of the season requirement and are in addition to any uniform purchase, US Lacrosse dues, certification fees, and clinic fees paid per season by officials to be prepared to call a safe, fair game.

Many other states, including Florida, whose season was about one-third complete, have issued a season credit of dues to each official in their system. MPSSAA teams did not play a single regular season game prior to the shutdown, yet officials are still being asked to bear the financial burden of the state fee. Seems unfair to me. In an environment where there is a shortage of qualified officials (for many reasons that deserve their own commentaries), you’d think the MPSSAA would want to take care of the ones they have. There are many opportunities in all sports to officiate and it’s shortsighted of the MPSSAA to treat officials as if they don’t have a choice as to which games to accept in the future. I’m calling on the MPSSAA to do the right thing here and credit all fees and apply them to the 2021 season.

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Lauren Faby, Naples, Fla.

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