Today was the first day of Winter Sports practice in our county for the Middle Schools and High Schools. That also means in two weeks I will have to pull out my checkbook and stroke a check for $100 for my son to be on the High School Swim Team. Since when do you have to pay to be on a public high school sports team?
As education budgets get cut and schools look for creative ways to save money, more and more school districts across the country are implementing pay to play fees for their athletes. In our county it is $100 per season, per athlete beginning in Middle School. While the $100 fee is not a hardship for our family, it is for many in our county – and for many it is the difference between playing high school sports and sitting on the couch after school.
High school sports at my kids’ school are already being hit hard. Last year the school district did away with the activity buses – the buses that take kids home after sports or other extra-curricular activities are done. Being that our high school serves a large and rather rural area of our county, many students who played sports before now have no way of getting home from practice as many parents both work and car pools are not always an option. So now, add to the mix, pay to play, and many of our children simply cannot participate in high school sports.
These same children who are missing out on the opportunity to play are the same children who really need all the positive that sports has to offer – from fitness to self confidence to discipline and everything in between.
What do you think? Is Pay-to-Play becoming the norm? Is it fair? Is there a better solution? What is a reasonable amount to require? Leave a comment, because I would love to hear your insight!