School Sports are a Luxury

They’re called “Extra-Curricular” sports for a reason. The bankrupt Minneapolis Star-Tribune stirs up trouble with an article in Sunday’s paper:

School sports now a Minnesota luxury?

“Cut from the team” means something different in these economic times. Extracurricular activities are hurting.

The economic crunch is coming to high school sports.

Faced with budget problems, some schools are raising fees while cutting back on equipment, transportation and other expenses. Others are voluntarily cutting back on the number of games their teams play.

In early February, the Minnesota State High School League could decide to make reduced schedules mandatory starting in the 2009-10 school year as a way to save money.

Administrators use words like “bleak” and “troubling” to describe the outlook for high school activities….

My wife disagrees with me vehemently on the role of sports in school. She is quiet persuasive. For kids that are not on the Honor Role, eligibility for sports can be an incentive to sit through the drudgery of a public school education.

And truth be told, yes, I do agree that rising activity fees means it can be very difficult for middle class kids to participate throughout the year. My wife’s kids play softball, baseball, basketball, and football; they participate in cheer leading and choir. On top of their hefty activity fees, parents are expected to pay to get into games and concerts (yes, they charge for high school and junior high choir concerts, too).

I also agree: a well-rounded education requires a broad exposure to the arts and sciences in addition to core academics.

I am a long-time participant and advocate of Scouting for youth. It is a game with a purpose. However, it would never occur to me to ask the taxpayers of Minnesota to help pay for our Scouting adventure.

Scouting isn’t cheap, but there is value in Scouting and a Scout is Thrifty. We try to work with families to give our young men the opportunity to earn their way. We sell popcorn and wreaths. We work during the County Fair. Our parents dig deep to send their own sons to summer camp each year and the community supports our Council programs with Friends of Scouting.

In difficult times, we may have to say No. Sorry, not this year. I would love to send our Scout to the centennial National Jamboree next year. That’s not likely to happen no matter how much popcorn he sells. In times like these, we need to work harder, plan better, save more. Get back to basics. Do your best.

(Cross-posted from JohnScout)

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