GMAC Referee Strike: What are the Implications?


Armand Shoon

The Varsity Boys Basketball Team traveled over an hour away to get game time after this debacle.

Andres Rodriguez, Staff Writer

With high school basketball season around the corner, several Miami-Dade County referees have gone on strike. After a series of disagreements between high school basketball officials and the Greater Miami Athletic Conference, the majority of referees are refusing to show up for games, in efforts to force action by the conference. The ongoing debate between high school basketball referees and the GMAC continues to pose a threat for basketball programs and players across Miami-Dade. As players and coaches are preparing for the upcoming season, is there a specific reason for the basketball referees going on strike?

Every year, high school referees are expected to register with their local high school basketball association in order to begin officiating games. As it pertains to Miami-Dade, it is assumed that referees will enlist under the GMAC before the season starts. However, it is not required for officials to succumb to their local sports associations. In fact, basketball officials can operate autonomously and still get paid, while avoiding having to work under organizations like the GMAC whose pay clearly is unacceptable.

Beginning in Dec. 2020, the Miami Dade Basketball Officials Association has been pushing to separate from the GMAC and work as an independent entity. This decision is due to GMAC’s enforcement of a $45 fee for its officials upon entering the conference along with additional fees that are not charged to any other association in the state. Many referees are in support of the idea of forming the MDBOA as the GMAC’s fees result in additional money being taken out of their earnings.

I honestly think it’s unfair that referees are underpaid in the GMAC, as they are an essential part of the sports we participate in as student-athletes. Without them we would not be able to legitimately showcase our talents on the court, so it’s necessary that they receive proper payment for the work they do for us,

— senior Lawrence Stampino-Strain

Despite a reason for concern amongst officials, the FHSAA has declined the MDBOA independence twice in the past five months. According to the FHSAA, the association had not met the requirements in order to become separate from the GMAC as well as not given a concise reason for its existence. High school basketball referees are clearly the underdogs in this situation and are not being acknowledged by the FHSAA.

With the high school basketball season commencing, fewer than 10 referees across Miami-Dade have registered. In fact, many referees were planning to go on strike, in efforts to force action by either the GMAC or FHSAA. Consequently, multiple games were canceled for our own Cavaliers. For example, the Coral Gables Senior High varsity boys basketball team has already had two postponements, one at Belen Jesuit High School and another at TERRA High School. In order to have a shot at a decent and normal season, they are starting to play in Broward. A nearly two hour drive, the boys have to jump through hoops just to get playing time.

Not only are the shortage of referees affecting the team themselves, but the preparation and practice beforehand. As a result of the shortage of referees, teams across Miami-Dade have had to adjust to their slightly altered schedule due to the refereeing situation. Furthermore, teams’ morale is being affected due to the lack of officials. With some games postponed, many teams are eager to start their season and get back on the court as soon as possible.

“Now that the referees are expected back, the team is ready to go. We’ve been practicing a lot and running over the plays. We are locked in and ready,” freshman Bruno Sanchez said.

As basketball games begin to resume in Miami-Dade, either the GMAC or FHSAA are going to have to evaluate the refereeing situation. Nonetheless, this is a warning sign if they do not do what is right. Although the FHSAA has sanctioned the MDBOA, the agreement is only temporary and will have to be negotiated with in the near future. Obviously, the GMAC and FHSAA did a poor job in providing for their referees and in turn they have affected the high school basketball season.