Off and Running

High school sports deserve their funding

Off and Running

Mark Carlson, Sports Editor

Disclaimer: I may or may not believe in the following ideas expressed in this column. That is beside the point. I am simply playing devil’s advocate.

In English class, we identified problems in our education system and wrote them on a poster. On all the posters, it was mentioned how sports got more funding and attention than other clubs and activities. But sports deserve the big bucks. Sports should get as much funding as they need.

When I say the words “Warren Central,” “Pike” and “New Albany,” what comes to mind? For the majority of you, I bet you thought of Warren football and Pike and New Albany basketball. And if you didn’t, did you think of Pike’s 63 wonderful clubs or of New Albany’s 10 honor graduates? I’ll bet you didn’t. But sports are the face of the school. For example, New Albany recently played North Central in front of 6,000+ people and it was broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest with Pacers announcers commentating the game. The athletes represent their school to observers.

If I went to a football game at Happy Harbor High School and they were wearing four different varieties of uniforms and their field had 17 different species of grass growing in it, I would not have a very high opinion of HHHS. I would also share that opinion with the other 1000+ people in attendance at the normal high school football game.

But even if you don’t care about the image of your school, at least make sure that there are opportunities for all of the students attending. According, at least 55.5 percent of students will play a sport during high school. Providing funding for up to 21 IHSAA-sanctioned sports isn’t cheap. And as much as I can be a cheapskate, I believe that sports are an extremely important aspect of school and denying them funding takes away from students’ experience. It would be taking away something that, in this day and age, students are entitled to.

Other than being entitled to sports in high school, students who compete in athletics get better grades and do better academically, according to a study by the University of Kansas. Athletics even lead to higher graduation rates for athletes versus non-athletes. Aren’t academics what people think should get more monetary support? Since funding for sports helps give opportunities that students deserve and it helps them in the classroom, sports fulfill important academic duties.

Sports, especially football and basketball, bring a lot of money into the school. When a basketball stadium can seat 7,124 people and it costs $5 per ticket, that equals out to $35,620. Even half of that is a lot of money brought into the school district. That money can be put towards things like new computers for your favorite newspaper staff (Thanks PTEC!), or for things like mini-buses to let academic teams or school groups from all over the township travel to competitions or on field trips. School sports are similar to businesses in that you have to put money in to get money out.

Schools and sports go hand in hand. It is hard for there to be one and not the other. School prepares students for life, and sports motivate kids to do well and try their hardest in school. But without money for sports, this relationships breaks and one can no longer benefit the other.