High School Sports: The Hidden Tax

fundraiser-2Now that my youngest son has graduated from high school, I look forward to hanging out with some of my friends.

Now…now that I won’t harass them to play in the golf tournament fundraiser – or buy a boston butt or two – or buy a season ticket – or maybe be a scoreboard sponsor…maybe they won’t run when they see me coming.  Maybe now, we can just hang and talk politics or religion or sports, with no fear of me bringing up the dreaded question – “Hey, I was just wondering if you’d like to buy…”.

The Cost of High School Sports

The cost of playing high school sports has skyrocketed.  It’s become the incessant, never-ending, always-presentTaxes monkey on the back of every parent who has a child playing high school sports.  In essence, it’s a “tax” that parents have to pay for their child to play sports at the high school level.

There are season expenses – officials, game balls, uniforms, and game-day necessities.

There are field maintenance costs – fertilizer, herbicides, grass seed, equipment repair, infield dirt, diamond dry, and so on.

There are new uniforms to buy – perhaps a 4th or 5th jersey, or a new helmet with the old-school logo.

There are supplements – this is in addition to salaries that coaches make as teaching faculty.

And, then, there are improvements on facilities – new dugout rails, a new outfield fence, a 25 second clock, or a new video board.

Yep.  A new video board.

One program at a local high school will unveil a new video board/scoreboard for the upcoming season.  Geez.

The Cost of Excess

High school sports programs – from football to baseball to soccer to softball – all have to provide for the cost of maintaining and improving the program in which their child is a participant.  Every child who plays for a high school has to pay for the privilege to do it.

They do so through fundraisers and, in some cases, player fees.  In many cases, the parents pay the bill along with you – the family friend, or business owner, or alumnus.  While they may be raising money to operate a program, in many cases, it’s a case of “keeping up with the Joneses” gone bad.

Take the video board, for example.  Someone will have to pay for that…and it’s not cheap.  It may be the local grocery store or insurance agency who donates a large sum of money to place their logo next to the video board, but, regardless, it won’t be cheap.  It’s also not necessary.

But, really, why does a high school program need a video board? Or, a fifth uniform? Or, chair back seats? Or, an indoor practice facility?

How much is too much?

The Hidden “Tax”

give me moneyIn most cases, every high school sport will have a booster club.  This organization, mostly of parents, will coordinate raising money to meet the needs – and wants – of the respective program.  While booster clubs are not mandatory, the have become a necessity.

The reason is – and I speak from my experience only – is that the school provides minimal dollars to the various programs.  Maintaining and improving the facilities are the responsibility of boosters.  Financial responsibility from the school is negligible.

That means you and I have to pay it, and that can be a difficult proposition for many involved.

Blood from a Turnip

At some point, the process will break.  High school facilities and programs will continue to demand more and moreTurnip improvements that will demand continued investment from you and I.  Not a dime from the school, yet you and I will foot the bill.

In my case, our high school sat just a couple of miles (as the crow flies) from another high school.  Friends and families that work together, attend church together, and live in adjacent neighborhoods all competed for the same money from friends and businesses.  It was like getting “blood from a turnip”, especially in the years that our nation’s economy struggled.

Yet, program after program from every high school improved its lot, all done so on the backs of its parents.  At some point, the schools have to – no, they must – step in and work to resolve the issue.

Until that happens, though, get ready.  The door bell is ringing.  It’s the tax man.




Filed under Commentary

2 responses to “High School Sports: The Hidden Tax

  1. Marty Blakely

    I joke that when the kids were younger the parents were swapping the same $10 Toys R Us gift cards at birthday parties and now we are swapping the same $20 back and forth for discount cards.
    Also, everybody needs more sound and lighting!

  2. Archie Moore

    Good blog. We especially liked the example of the “turnip”. Dad was impressed with that. I think the fund raisers began when you were in High School. They have gotten a bit out of control. They ask SS classes to buy school supplies, paper products, etc for the grade schools down here. Keep up the blogging!!!!

    Sent from my iPad


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