HUERFANO — Across America, parents are weighing the decision to allow their sons to play football, considering the detrimental effects of blows to the head. We regularly hear of former football players brought down by injuries from career hits. There also is a legitimate concern that ‘heading’ the ball in soccer can be a cause of similar percussive head injuries, and baseball is showing a concern it never has in the past about concussions. However, no sport threatens as great a chance of dementia or related brain injury disease as football, and parents are noticing. As a result of these concerns, participation is down at the high school and youth levels and some high schools are not fielding freshman teams.
Generally speaking, most of the Elite 25 Schools in the Max Preps reporting system are private or parochial schools with high tuition and scholarship programs for the poor and under privileged athletes who, coincidently, can throw a football, dribble and dunk a basketball, or shoot or spike a volleyball. The cost of quality safety equipment is not a deal breaker for such schools. In today’s economy, however, smaller schools must decide which of the five popular sports, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and track, they can support. Many have already dropped the freshman and, in some cases, JV teams and have increased activity fees to maintain the break-even points to justify keeping the sports. Such schools must weigh their ability to educate while offering a diverse total high school experience. Smaller schools and those concerned with budgets and liability may succumb to the pressure of dropping the sport from their calendar. The rich will play, the poor will not.
In most school districts, an activities fee subsidizes the budget, supporting all clubs and activities, be it Science, Math, FBLA, sports programs, or Band, to overcome the general lack of overall funding from the state. Gate receipts for the right mix of sports can actually make sports a money maker which, in combination with fundraisers, provides the funds to offer kids something to do after school, and a chance of achieving greatness.