Monday, October 13, 2008

Youth sports and the money crunch

You may have read how the underfunded high school sports programs in Mount Vernon, N.Y. were saved earlier this year by the beneficence of "Remember the Titans" star Denzell Washington. The actor donated $100,000 to help keep schools sports afloat.

The Wall Street meltdown, housing collapse, loss of tax revenues, et cetera, have exacerbated an already difficult situation and many school systems are scrambling to make ends meet. Even, it turns out, the relatively affluent ones. The Washington Post's Preston Williams has a nice summary of school sports belt-tightening, real and contemplated, in the capital city's Virginia and Maryland suburbs.

With gas prices still high, some schools are insisting that kids find transportation to games, tournaments and other team events off campus. Others are looking to parents to pay for items - equipment and uniforms - that used to be covered by athletic department budgets. Williams writes, "Last year, the Virginia AAA Northern Region added a round of football playoffs, in part to make more money. In the spring, the division decided to no longer hold its boys' and girls' regional basketball semifinals and championships at the Patriot Center at George Mason University. The cost was prohibitive, so the tournaments will be played at Robinson Secondary School. It's a prestige hit, but a money saver."

No doubt, similar things are going on all over the country.

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