In response to my article Are High School Sports Worth the Cost? an individual responded with a letter to the editor, arguing that these sports are in fact worth the cost. But what the author forgets is the basic economic principle of opportunity cost. Given schools’ finite budgets, money allotted to athletics could be used for other purposes.
I’d like to start by mentioning that the statistics used in this individual’s article are simply unfair to utilize, as they compare a science budget for a K-12 program to an athletics budget for high school and middle school programs. Hence, the South Windsor school district’s science program is distributed over 13 grades compared to the sports program which is distributed over seven grades. Based on the fact that this article was titled “High school sports are worth every dollar and more,” not only am I perplexed by the existence of misleading statistics within the article but it also doesn’t make sense as to why middle school and elementary school statistics are used in the first place.
That being said, as someone who participated in high school sports, I would agree that high school sports are a beneficial program that helps students develop as overall individuals. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a society where we have unlimited money. While it would be quite nice if our education system was given more money, it isn’t; as such, certain determinations need to be made when allocating this money. I would agree sports are objectively worth the monetary cost, but in a finite system, this cost is — in reality — funding for other programs.
To go back to a point I made in my original article, I named nine clubs at Wolcott High School that are given less funding combined based on the stipend amount compared to the football coaches’ combined stipends. To say that it’s worth it to fund football is one thing, but to argue that the football program gives students a better experience than nine clubs combined is simply preposterous. Many of these clubs are those that have a huge impact on the community by serving others and teaching students to be contributors to society. Some clubs such as robotics even have an impact on students after they graduate by helping them explore areas that are potentially pertinent to their careers. While football and other sports give students the many benefits of being on a team, many of these extracurricular activities give students a similar experience, and in many cases, the activity of these other extracurriculars helps students in a way sports simply cannot. For example, many graduates of the Wolcott High School Robotics Team actually major in a STEM field, yet it can’t be said that a large number of graduates of the Wolcott High School Football team ever turn football into a real career. Both provide students with skills, a team experience, and an added support system, yet only one has this extra benefit, yet confusingly it’s the extracurricular activity that is given less funding.
This argument doesn’t even begin to examine the fact that academics are important. To go back to the statistics mentioned in the letter to the editor, instead of looking at these programs in a misleading way, simply viewing the high school budget for the science and athletics programs in South Windsor gives a different result. The following analysis takes only the high school budgets for both science and athletics into consideration and does not factor in the systemwide budgets for either sports or science programs for simplicity’s sake. By taking another look at the South Windsor Board of Education Budget I found that in the 2022-2023 period, the BOE’s approved budget gave high school science programs in South Windsor $1,560,956 compared to $744,085 for athletics. This shows that high school science programs are only given roughly double the amount athletics are in South Windsor, a statistic drastically different from the claim that science programs are given almost four times more funding than athletics included in the letter to the editor. While sports build on the benefit of the academic environment in helping students to become well-rounded, school is ultimately the starting point where students learn how to collaborate with others, work hard, face challenges and adapt and grow. And because science is a core subject, it is concerning that they are only given double the money athletics are allotted.
Yes, sports are beneficial, and they should indeed be funded, but when they’re surrounded by a plethora of programs equally if not more beneficial, the money they’ve been given is simply too much.