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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-mighty—football—will 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?


When I was in high school, I joined a team and practiced for a chance to play in the game. The practices SUCKED, but the games made it worthwhile unless I didn't play.

The coaches were devilishly tough during practice, always focused on training the kids to win more games. With shorter schedules, schools need to ENSURE that their coaches are less focused on winning, and more focused on the well-being of the students. Their health first, morale second, and their competitiveness a distant last. Also will probably remedy part of the steroids issue that many athletes encounter later.

How they should proceed with enforcing these obligations to the community's children, I don't know but I could devise something.


Pay as you go system. No team receives a penny from the school (salaries, security, insurance, etc.) The team pays total cost. Big sports like football will die. Because the myth is the football is a revenue producing sport (true) but it does not turn a profit. Most high schools lose 30,000 to 300,000 year running a football program. I bet the money football loses can support all the other programs combined. Check the school budget out, look at the athlete budget, findout for yourself. Stop Football now, before it stops you.

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