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NJ: Community steps up to the plate to restore freshman baseball
"All my children have benefitted from local sports programs such as Biddy basketball, Peewee football and Peewee wrestling," "When the program disappeared on the freshman level, there was a gap, and some of those kids would be lost."
04-Nov-2010, NorthJersey.com

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Changing the Game


Community sports are facing a financial crisis and it is time to Change the Game. Candy bars and washing cars just won't cut it anymore. Changing the Game is a blog about trends around the country and ideas on the future of community and high school sports fundraising.

When all sports are club sports

Mike Sellars - Saturday, January 12, 2013
Where does this trend of school districts cutting sports and extra-curricular activities budgets, year after year, end?

Districts are forcing ADs part time, middle schools sports go first, tier three high school sports go next, revenue sports have protection over non-revenue sports, the number of games per season are being scaled back to reduce transportation, field and official costs, some schools consolidate their teams across two or even three high schools, some districts are turning their sports programs over to the parks department or a non-profit foundation.  The ACLU is going after schools with pay-to-play and the unions will fight the "curricular" vs. "extra-curricular" fight everyday.  Teachers will win over quarterbacks in the end.  Eventually the remaining budget will be so small it requires cutting the last remaining sport.  Then what?

Even if you believe your school is not at risk, think about who your teams are going to compete against in 3 or 5 years.  If middle school and freshman sports are gone, where is the feeder program for your varsity teams?

In most states, at least some third tier sports are already club sports playing under the school mascot but as non-sanctioned sports. When a sports is relegated to "club sports" status, that is code for no funding; no money for coaches, equipment, uniforms, officials, tournament fees and transportation. The athletes and their parents are on the hook for all expenses.  Some ice hockey teams cost as much as $1,500 per team member to fund a season.  

If every team is responsible for full season funding, cross country needs very little in equipment or officials and their uniforms are very cheap.  Football on the other hand, is very expensive on a per player basis.  Tennis has no gate receipts whereas boys basketball does. And so does girls basketball, but not nearly the boys take in.  Same expenses, less gate income, higher per player contributions from the parents or fundraising to do.

You have to wonder if every dollar for every team comes from fundraising, will your friends, family and neighbors dread your visits?  Will local businesses cut you off before even before you tell them how cute your team is?  Can the football team, the soccer team and the baseball team all have a golf tournament or a live auction?  Is there a fundraising saturation point where the community gets fundraising fatigue?

Let's think about facilities for a second.  If the school no longer has basketball and volleyball teams, why do they need a gym?  Will they maintain the stadium, gym, track, etc. for club teams?  Will they want a share of your gates?  Want the teams to pay practice and game facility rental?  How long before they divide that gym into classrooms?

And if this happens gradually on a school by school basis, what happens as teams are at different stages of transition?  How do leagues plan year to year?

There are many more questions... more questions than answers.  We are confident that our Sportzine Publishers will be part of the changing game.  An important player in each team's fundraising planning.  The need for our services will increase every year... no matter what direction this market takes.  The one thing that is predictable is that there will not be a reversal of fortune.  The trend is set and the future is clear... The transition to an all club sports model is real.  
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