Pay to Play High School Sports is Here!

12.11.13 | Ralph Kerr | Comments[0]

 Pay to Play High School Sports is Here!

                Nearly 40% of school districts in Pennsylvania recently reported they are now charging for students to participate in sports as an alternative to cutting these activities. The number of school districts charging to play sports has tripled since 2010. I believe if this trend continues it will be the death nell for high school sports, a tragic outcome.

            There is no doubt that costs for sports have increased significantly. Coaching salaries have increased dramatically as have official costs, which include not only a signficant stipend but travel costs as well. Costs of uniforms, balls and other equipment also continue to increase.

             Pennsylvania does not consider sports a part of guaranteed public education so local school boards have the ability to charge students to play if they decide to do so. Some school districts are charging $200 per student, per activity. This means in small school districts where it is not unusual for many students to play three sports a year; their fees could total $600. Such costs are simply not sustainable giving other cost increases most parents are facing.

            One alternative some districts are turning to in an effort to continue to support sports is corporate sponsorship. In Pennsylvania some corporate sponsors are spending between $1000 and $1 million to sponsor sports. One would wonder how long corporations will continue this level of activity given their increasing costs as well. This would not be allowed in New York State as current law prohibits corporate sponsorships.

            In many districts, unable to secure corporate sponsors or charge athletes, sports are simply being cut. Eleven percent of the school districts report they have cut one or more programs for financial reasons. The most commonly cut sports may surprise some. Basketball cut in 32% of districts making cuts, Soccer 21%. Both sports are very popular activities and soccer usually involves many students.

            Given this reality what can parents and students do now? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Students should be sure to participate in sports that are offered. Without student participation cuts become easy.
  2. Create a Sports Booster Club that can do various fundraisers the districts are not allowed to conduct.
  3. Suggest alternative cuts to the local Board of Education that may impact fewer students.
  4. Urge the local school board to consider the number of students involved in many of the sports and promote the value and benefit of team sports.  



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