More students are participating in high school sports both nationally and in Michigan at a time when budgets cuts are eliminating athletic director positions and increasing the costs for parents, according to a blog post by Jack Roberts, the executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
The blog cites a study by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA) that shows high school sports participation increased in 2010-11 versus the year before. It was the 22nd consecutive year of increases.
The MHSAA story also says the NFSHSA conducted an attendance survey in 2009-10 that showed "there were more than a half billion spectators at high school sporting events across the country. There were more than two and a half times as many fans attending high school basketball and football contests as attended college and professional contests combined in those sports."
The MHSAA blog states concern that school budget cuts being made across the state could lead to an erosion of the quality of educational athletics.
"Less money for and less oversight of school sports is a combination tailor-made for problems – for ineligible students and forfeits, for crowd control and sportsmanship problems, and for injuries; and in all cases, for the controversies that follow. There are smarter places to make cuts in our schools and still turn out smart kids," according to the blog post.
Cuts have affected area schools and their athletic programs. after winter and spring sports programs were cut from the 2011-12 school year budget and funding for the fall sports would have ended after the fall 2011 season, affecting more than 2,000 student athletes at the district’s seven junior high schools. The seventh-and eighth-grade athletics program will survive for at least two more years after the board accepted the new plan, which includes an increase in student athletic participation fees.
Other districts have increased their pay-to-play fees, including Chippewa Valley Public Schools and Trenton Public Schools.
In Trenton, Trenton High School fees increased from $115 to $130 and at Boyd W. Arthurs Middle School fees increased from $65 to $80 per sport. In addition, the district cut busing of students to and from athletic events after the for general education students, then reinstated it for this year only after money from delinquent taxes was found in the budget to help fund bus service.
At Chippewa Valley Public Schools the board instituted an increased athletic pay-to-participate fee of $50 per sport, which increased the high school to $175, middle school to $125. They also cut athletic budget expenditures by 15 percent.
Elsewhere, by $50 per athlete; parents will pay $350 per high school student and $200 per middle school student, with an $800 per-family cap. Discounted rates will be available for students on the free or reduced lunch program.
Birmingham Schools raised per-student athletic fees by $10 to $20 per student, $110 to $120 per student for middle schoolers and $145 to $165 for high school students. Rochester Schools may charge $185 to $195 per athlete; Troy charges $175.
But some districts, , have managed to limit fees.
What do you think?
Are you upset about budget cuts to school athletic programs?
Or do you think this is a reality that school districts need to accept because of the economic climate?