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Monday, February 16, 2009

Pay Check: Debate Judges vs. Sports Officials

By the way, as I review Madison school board minutes, I notice that we pay basketball officials anywhere from $75 to $119 (e.g. Jeff Deslauriers). I see some wrestling officials get $181 to $230 (Dave Cornemann, Kurt Heeren). Gymnastics judges can get $356 (Jenny Christian).

Is that last figure for a full month of contests? Must be. Madison pays debate judges $50 (e.g., Gabe Jorgenson) for one one-day contest, and that's only when the coach is not available to judge rounds. When I judge the National Qualifying tournament in Sioux Falls, I might make $100-$120, and that's for being available Friday from 3-10 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until the tournament is done (and I've judged final rounds at 2 a.m.).

Maybe sports really do help you get better paychecks.


  1. That's why Bud Postma is away officiating wrestling when our Madison teams are playing Canton at home. Double dipping. If he is Athletic Director does he need all the extra money from referee work?

  2. Sports rule, don't you know???!!

    How about Destination Imagination (formerly Odyssey of the Mind). Coaches and judges foot their own bills for travel, motel, food, etc. But it really isn't very important in many eyes evidently. Madison doesn't even compete in it anymore. Sports geta all the attention and accordingly most of the money.

    But maybe if a bill introduced in Pierre is passed making kids pay to play, that will change. Fat chance. It will never get anywhere because sports are sacrosanct. At least someone is willing to address the issue this year.

  3. There is a shortage of referees in the state.

    Why would you want to be one after you've been screamed at the entire game by one side or the other?

  4. Indeed, rarely does a debate judge have to face a rough crowd. But did you ever vote down one of Kim Maass's policy teams? ;-)

    Debate judges face their own challenges, though. Debate judges, basketball refs, and gymnastics judges all share a commitment to making knowledgeable and fair decisions. When we write a ballot, we face the twin tasks of justifying our decision and helping the kids on both sides learn how to debate better next time.

  5. Pay to Play is getting a rough bit of PR, but in reality, uniforms for sports teams, equipment for teams and new uniforms and instruments for band all cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of time. While I don't believe in anyone paying to "play", I do feel that those depreciating items that wear out should have some sort of user fee to help replace worn out uniforms and equipment. On the other hand, taxpayers pay for worn out desks, books and computers, so it may be unfair to target activities.

  6. The whole thing is activities aren't a necessity or required in order for a child to get a good education. It wouldn't be so bad if kids were only in one or two of these activities, but they keep adding activities all the time and there are some kids that want to be in several things. Basically when they are in several activities, they don't have time to just be kids. There are also kids now that can't afford to be in activities, even though they are free. There is still some extra expenses. When my brother and I were in school in SD, our parents couldn't afford for us to participate in extra curricular activities and we didn't suffer. Most of the time we couldn't even afford to attend a game.

  7. The gate supports sports like football, basketball and football. That means there's more money to pay refs. The refs certainly are not paid enough for the abuse they receive for their job.

    Should we lower the pay for sports referees so you can feel better about the lousy pay for debate judges? I really feel for you but I doubt very much you judge debate for the money.

  8. Pay to play I feel is a bad concept because as of now our youth is inactive and does not need another reason to be. Sports keep a lot of kids off the streets and away from the computers which is a great thing. Did you ever notice that the way that people were getting paid in those ratios also reflected the skill that goes with reffing them. Basketball, everyone wants to coach it, jeeze they even have kids reffing college leagues. Have you ever went to a gymnastics meet? I have been to plenty and I know I don't know how in the world they get those scores and what hits wear and why to deduct what. Debate is hard to ref but look at the numbers, 5 kids to a debate team...18-40 kids to sports teams. Where the count is higher, a larger check is expected I guess.

  9. Team size: actually, John, that pay range for debate/interp judges is about the same regardless of team size. Sioux Falls Lincoln will pay me $60 for judging a one-day interp contest, and they have interp squads of 80 (like Annette Groeneveld did here in Madison way back when!).

  10. "The whole thing is activities aren't a necessity or required in order for a child to get a good education."

    This comment, while not malicious in any way, is none the less one of the most dangerously ignorant posts I've seen in some time.

    Every meaningful study done over the last twenty years comes to the same conclusion, students in activities perform better in class than those who don't participate in extra curricular activities. They also show that the more activities a student is involved in, the better the academic performance.

    And don't assume that the "brightest and best" are just the ones in activities. These same studies show that at risk kids who become active in sports or other activities, show a significant increase in GPA. Those same kids also are less likely to drop out of school.

    From personal experience, I can tell you I remember little from Mr. Koster's freshman physics class. But on his basketball team I learned what hard work and dedication really meant (I also learned I was not a great basketball player). I've used those lessons everyday of my life, and I can tell you a similar story from every coach or activities director I had in High School.

    The moral of the story, if you want kids to excel at school, INCREASE funding for ALL activities.

    -Matt Groce

  11. "The moral of the story, if you want kids to excel at school, INCREASE funding for ALL activities."

    I'll ask your opinion after you have a few years under your belt of paying local property taxes and see if you opinion is the same. I highly doubt it will be, esepcially if you are a small business owner or farmer/rancher.

    There are plenty of activities now, whicht are equally valuable to those school funded activities, but which are not supported by my taxes. Destination Imagination, soccer, hockey come to mind along with church activities, volunteer activities, work activity, summer baseball, etc.

  12. "Debate is hard to ref but look at the numbers, 5 kids to a debate team."

    John, I haven't judged debate but have judged oral interp, and they're done very similarly. I judged three preliminary rounds with at least five students in each round. If I judged a finals round, that meant another five students minimum, so a day's work would mean judging at minimum 20 students, not five. Judging means writing out a critique sheet for EACH student, plus awarding speaker points for each student, plus ranking the students in each round.

  13. Debate and Oral Interp teams are highly different. Oral Interp brings in the fine arts crowd.

    What about audience numbers? I have never went to a debate tournament but aren't they all put on by like the state or something? Where as the actual booster clubs are doing funding at basketball games. I just think that there seems to be more cash flow in activities. We also have to remember that these activities are getting kids better chances in the schooling systems. I am not going to use examples but there have been plenty of football and basketball players we all know that if they did not have sports pushing them through the system they would never even go on to college. I am not in any way saying that debate or oral interp are inferior to sports, they take a lot of skill and experience. I am just saying that we could go down to the high school and pick out plenty of people that have never been to one and could not even tell you where to go to watch one.

    Pay to play seems like it is taking the reason for sports off the table. We are talking about taking something that was suppose to get miss-guided youth focused and on track and making it a privilege that those with some kids won't get. We are further alienating those children because of our failure through booster.

    If you want an honest truth, and in the city of Madison this next sentence will get to stir some talking. We can blame being in this situation by not capitalizing on a new gym. I am not from Madison but I have NEVER NEVER NEVER heard of a school having to lock the gym because it is full. Having to leave two hours before a varsity game so that you can actually watch? Larger gym = more revenue at the door, more revenue at the concession stands, AND more revenue through the state by hosting state games and surrounding area's tournaments.

  14. At the risk of parroting my announcing compatriot, I think the idea that extra-curricular activities aren't necessary in schools are ignorant at best, small-minded at worst.

    I had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Koch recently and he says money for activities take up about 10-percent of a school's general budget... a drop in the bucket when you look at the scheme of things. So its not like these schools are spending 25, 30 or 50-percent on just sports. That's just plain dumb.

    As for the idea that sports take away from academics... take a look at the Madison policy regarding academic eligibility. If an athlete, band member, oral interp competitor has a “D” average in two classes in a term, they are ineligible to participate in activities. When I taught in Doland years ago, students were held accountable on a weekly basis. Failing a class and you're out until you get your grades up. In other words, students involved in activities face more accountability in school for their academic success than someone NOT involved in sports, music, or the arts.

    And if you think athletes get a free pass, that isn't the case. I was in football and wrestling for four years in high school and my wrestling coach, whom I greatly admire, gave me a “0” on a history assignment because I didn't turn in a report on time. I don't necessarily call THAT a free pass! And to say that these teacher/coaches give out free passes... that's moronic and stupid and you owe each of these professionals a personal apology!

    I consider extra-curricular activities to be an extension of the classroom and effective teachers for real life. From band, football, wrestling, drama and chorus, I learned such skills as time management, organization, leadership, personal responsibility, teamwork, self-discipline, humility, sportsmanship, and a solid work ethic.... skills that you simply cannot effectively learn out of a textbook!

    I could probably talk even more... but then I'd be repeating myself, and probably delving into personal attacks which is never appropriate (that pesky self-discipline I learned in high school activities kicking in!)

  15. I think there must be some misconception that because people talk about sports and the coverage that sports gets in the media, that these activities are lavishly funded. Judging by what I got for coaching Jr. High Football many years ago, I can tell you with all certainty that the stipend I received barely paid me minimum wage when factoring in all the extra time, materials, and fuel I used during the season.

  16. So just curious, John: are you saying that sports officials get paid more because more people watch? By purely free market rules, that says sports skills are more valuable that speaking skills. Is that what you're saying? What does cash flow have to do with educational value?

    Clarification: the state puts on one debate tournament, the State championship. All other debate tournaments are hosted by high schools and paid for by entry fees from the participating schools (plus occasional donations). They are run entirely by the very able coaches of this state.

    Hosting state games? I'm afraid you can't use that argument for building a new gym in Madison... unless you're proposing a 5000-seat arena. Even the Corn Palace isn't big enough to host state basketball.

  17. I am busy and only have a few minutes, I will come back and note more late.

    Madison has plenty of small sorrounding schools that if the city, school, and college put together some type of an auditorium that it would pay for itself. Ask anyone from Huron South Dakota. Their city has used their auditorium to build a very successful attraction for visiting activities from basketball to craft shows. They also did a great job building a center around it which involves graduation ceremonies to business conferences. This city is down sizing itself, it needs rich ideas that are hit in more spot than one. We need to stop looking for the quick fix and look at something in several different ways. With the economy going down, we have to look at a way to make Madison stick out more than these other places located near us. With Madison being a large A school, I think it needs to stand tall that's all. Maybe you could judge some of those debate tournaments in an auditorium.

  18. Someone brought up the failed gym proposal from a few years ago. I personally liked the way the proposed gym was to be constructed.
    1. It was promoted by a group of people who arrogantly proclaimed that even though it wouldn't be funded fairly, that was just the way things were and that was that.
    2. One of the main promoters would have paid not one cent of property tax for said building.
    2. The promoters admitted that their promotional materials over-estimated the economic impact it would have on Madison.
    4. The mayor refused to put one cent of city funds toward the gym.

    You say Madison needs a better gym. Maybe so. Then work together, find a fair way to fund it, have the city and school work together for a community type building, ask for donations from alumni. There are ways to get this done without just relying on property taxes.

    If you truly want a new gym, look to the reasons that the last one failed, learn from that, and look for an equitable way to fund it.

  19. A new gym will succeed if it is a community project, an events center. Alumni sources, Capital Outlay funds from the school district and city sales tax will pay for it and we all benefit with a much lower tax bite. Even an addition to the current gym would add another 500 seats, which would help.

  20. After the funding for the new pool, DSU planning new development on their own, and if the Pay To Play passes and Madison uses it...there will not be talk of a gym for five if not ten years...if ever


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