I rarely receive correspondance from my college alma matter and since they’d just concluded an expansive fundraising campaign, I was suprised to see yet another message from them this morning. Unfortunately, they weren’t asking for money. Regretfully, the email read, they had been forced to eliminate its football program.
I admit I’ve never been a big football fan, but I wasn’t immune to the excitment that enveloped our campus when our team reached the championship game in the 1996 NAIA Division II playoffs. I am shocked and dismayed, as I’m sure the college officials who had to make this decision, about the demise of a university tradition. It is a telling sign of the financial times.
Of course, as educators in the K-12 sector, you have been reading for months about this unfortunate trend in school athletic programs; and maybe even bracing yourself against having to make just such a cut. Recently, the East Side Union School District in San Jose, Calif. announced to an angry public it was considering cutting all of it’s athletic programs. Meanwhile, Volusia County school officials in Florida, has eliminated junior varsity sports beginning this spring.
One of the most drastic moves came from the Mount Vernon School District in New York, which I profiled in the current issue of ASBJ. There, district officials nixed the entire athletic program after taxpayers voted the district’s budget down twice. But the public rallied and raised enough money to resurrect the fall and winter sports programs, and is working on bringing back spring sports. It’s future, however, (there and at other school districts across the country) is as uncertain as the economy. Sports are an easy target during tough times, but many of the people I interviewed gave convincing arguments on why, athletic programs, especially during a bad economy, is the thing you really should try to preserve.
Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor