When someone is asked to think about a high school sport they are quick to think of football, basketball, soccer, or track, but many would not even consider the other great sports that thrive within the high school body.
“People don’t view [bowling] as a sport, they view it more as a leisure activity,” said Zach Brandt, bowling team captain.
High school sports can be the focal point and stress reliever for the day-to-day student. Whether you play football or hockey, there is a drive that keeps you playing the sport, regardless of the teams win-loss ratio. At the end of a game or a practice, players are doing what they love.
This sense of pride and passion for a sport is what makes sports enjoyable for spectators and players alike. However a high school team is not truly a team of the school unless the student body and the administrators are actively involved.
Without the energy or even the acknowledgement of the students in the school, the team is no more than kids meeting up to play a sport when class is over.
Every sports team should be treated equally and fairly regardless of the popularity of the sport. Potential players of the less popular sports such as hockey, are steered away from getting involved in that sport due to funding issues.
There are some schools that have made policies due to budget cuts to require all players to pay-to-play a sport, which overall is a good way to get more students involved in more sports. Because a player has already paid to play a sport they are more apt to join another sport which increases participation in sports that otherwise would have low participation. Once a student has already paid to play a sport it would motivate them to play more sports during the school year.
Portage Public Schools is one of a few school districts that have implemented pay-to-participate policies into their middle school and high school sports.
Portage Public Schools’ implementation of the pay-to-participate policy is because of a lack of funding from the state of Michigan. Pay-to-participate is a policy that requires all students to pay to be involved in an extracurricular activity.
This policy requires any participant of an extracurricular activity to pay an annual fee of $150 at the high school level with a maximum fee of $275 for more than one participant in the same household. Advocates of this rule would say that the fee makes it fair for everyone to play a sport regardless of a fee that comes along with it, while opponents of the rule would say that it inhibits some students to participate in an activity they have been in for years.
If every participant were to have to pay-to-play within Kalamazoo Public Schools, it would make the underappreciated sports reachable and appealing to more students. The students that have already paid to play a sport earlier in the year would be more inclined to try a sport they otherwise would not have before, possibly as a way to get their money’s worth for their year of playing sports.
However some athletes are being steered away from sports such as lacrosse and hockey because of the added fees that go along with them. Some sports can cost between 1 and 18 hundred dollars without adding on the cost of equipment. If sports like hockey cost less then the player will have more money to spend on better equipment.
All sports should be respected within the school, without respect these sports cannot grow. The popularity of the sport should not be the determining factor of whether or not the sport is respected by the student body and administrators. At the same time, fees, although necessary, are unfair to some sports and can create a stigma towards them. Even if society in general does not think the sport is important, students should be able to enjoy it without any added difficulties.
The longevity of less popular sports within our school will outlive the disrespect they are given. The integrity of these sports will get stronger with increasing support from the student body and administrators. Participation, passion and the coaches are all there, but what’s missing to create more winning teams is respect and equality.