Taking a Scalpel to Sports
Or maybe a meat cleaver ... depends on how you look it at. Florida's governing body for high school athletics approved cutting 20 percent of varsity contests and 40 percent for nonvarsity sports, in response to budget shortfalls. All sports, except the all-mightyfootballwill be affected. For those wondering why football was spared, I believe it's because football traditionally brings in revenue, enough to support other sports. At least that's the reasoning that was given to me by Roger Dearing of the Florida High School Athletic Association, when I interviewed him for a story last month on cuts to sports programs around the country. Across-the-board reductions to sports, while painful, at least make it easier for districts to work together to schedule games and save travel costs, he told me.
A number of athletic directors and administrators I interviewed for that story were worried about entire sports being eliminated outright, and about how it would affect students, particularly those from troubled or disadvantaged backgrounds. Sports keeps students engaged in school, they argued. (I would love to see more research on that, by the way, if someone can point me to it.) The Florida association's decision is an alternative to that dire option. I would assume that schools will stage fewer games and more practices and intrasquad matches. Not as much fun for the athletes, to be sure, but more appealing than seeing their seasons canceled.
How do the sports cuts in your districts compare with what's taking place in Florida?