They don’t fund football

My oldest son has become very interested in playing sports, and we’ve been supportive as parents as he’s discovered the joy and fun of exercise and teamwork in his various pursuits.  This month we went to the freshman football orientation.  The program at the high school is well established and for all purposes a good program, but there was a few comments during the meeting that got my ears perked up.  My favorite one…

The school doesn’t fund football.


What the speaker meant was that there were a lot of equipment and other fees that the school doesn’t pay for which require fund raising etc. to cover the cost. Not a problem. I don’t mind that, but saying that the school doesn’t fund football is hiding the hidden costs.

The school absolutely does fund football! Here’s a quick rundown (and please correct me where I’m wrong):

  • The practice fields and stadium were paid for with tax payer dollars (a field which is used for 5 games a year… (9.6% of all Saturdays or 1.3% of the days of any given year)
  • The school gets the bill for the electricity for the lights for a night game
  • They literally stop classes to have pep rallies with the entire school faculty attending–and the football team doesn’t pay for that portion of their salary
  • Tax revenue pays for the space to store the football team’s equipment
  • Tax revenue pays for the athletic director’s salary
  • Tax revenue pays for field maintenance

For some people football might be seen as an important part of a high school experience. That’s a topic for another post. Let’s say it is, but lets acknowledge that tax dollars aren’t free. They have to be generated. They’re taken from some people who may not have as much means as they would like. Tax dollars are precious and if they’re going to be spent, they should be spent for their advertised and intended purpose–education.

I’m not against these activities existing, I just think it’s a bit bloated in a town that has so many high schools to expect each school to have and maintain their own stadium. Certainly, with that utilization rate a central stadium should be considered the first option. When you think about it, the whole thing is really a scheduling issue.

So, yeah. If someone tells me the school doesn’t fund football… I have a different framework for that comment.