Youth athletic programs have been a staple of primary education for decades, and for good reason. Scouts from major universities often look for talent in young students, allowing families access to higher education through scholarships. For many, this is the only way they will be able to continue their education. However, as competition becomes more and more fierce the costs for participation are on the rise.
Perhaps the shining star of school sports is football, but it is also the most expensive. While uniforms can have a high price tag, the true cost is physical risk. The pastime has come under scrutiny lately due to the threat of concussive injury. In a sense, the way many students wish to proceed to college may be causing damage before they even take their first class.
To mitigate this threat, some high schools have opted to provide concussion insurance. As an added benefit, such policies can cover students who are active in any sport approved by the local school board. While this might help alleviate some fears, it does little to lower the overall cost of participation.
Friday Nights With No Lights
Playing sports has come a long way from stickball on the local sandlot. There is a definitive cost for participation that either comes out of a parent’s pockets or the school’s. Sports like football, which are recognized as being dangerous in recent years, require padding and gear that can raise the overall price tremendously.
In order to make other necessary changes to their school system, local districts have to cut costs. One of the primary ways to reduce a budget is to drop athletic programs, freeing up funds for new computers, safety systems, and maintenance overhauls. Even suspending athletics for a single year can have a dramatic impact on students’ success in those sports.
One way school districts can ease this burden is through fundraising. For years funding drives have been a popular option, but drops in attendance mean fewer students participating in such endeavors. Putting fundraising solely into the team’s hands might bottleneck financial relief.
Fortunately, alternatives like school-wide fundraisers and big events can support athletics, taking the focus away from specific sports and making it a case for school pride. Organizations like the End Zone Athletics Company allow schools to outsource their fundraising to the local community, getting free merchandise paid for by businesses looking to support those programs.
More Skill, Bigger Bill
Costs associated with school sports aren’t limited to uniforms and equipment. Preparing students for intense competition is a major expense of its own. Baseball, for example, has rigorous training camps that train children at ages starting as young as eight years old. From hitting and pitching coaches to pain-relieving spa treatments, parents can find the bill growing exponentially.
Though it might come as no surprise, parents who earn less have children that can’t afford to join school sports teams. Those same students may be woefully underskilled thanks to their teammates attending practice camps. Kids from lower-income families who might need the financial aid that a successful athletic program provides lose out.
Easing The Burden
Many taxpayers believe the school system should carry the load for providing athletic programs. As costs increase, districts need to find new ways to help students succeed and find their talents. Utilizing local businesses either through direct interaction or via enterprises like End Zone Athletics, fundraising opportunities can present themselves.
Companies get value in supporting local programs via advertising and goodwill, and athletic programs can capitalize on that fact. Often these businesses can be a renewable resource, providing annual support. Reaching out to find alternative income sources can help schools keep athletic programs updated, competitive, and worthwhile for students and the community as a whole.