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More cutbacks in athletics funding

Colleague Emma Brown on the Local staff had a story Sunday on another grass-roots group lamenting cutbacks in school-sponsored sports programs and physical education classes.

Up2Us sampled 23 school districts
, ranging from urban to rural, from across the country and found they had cut a combined $2 billion from sports and physical education programs. Up2Us speculated such cuts could have a direct impact on increased obesity, violence and academic failure. School districts in the Washington area have abstained from severe program cuts, though, as Bill Curran, who heads athletics for Fairfax County Public Schools, said, his budget of about $4 million could be sliced in half. It could force the elimination of some freshmen and junior varsity teams, and the institution of participation fees as high as $100.

The co-author of the study, Brian Greenwood, is a bit mistaken when he said, “Youth sports is in serious decline in this country.” He’s correct when it comes to proposed cuts in physical education classes or school-sponsored sports teams. Look around, however, at all the youth leagues outside of school, ranging from Little League and CYO to shoe-sponsored basketball, and it’s clear there is no shortage of options to satisfy the youth’s appetite for sport. It would become troubling, though, if these privately-operated sports programs become the primary option for youth athletics because those programs often require families to pay for their children to play – and those fees are often much higher than the participation fees required by some school districts.

Much has been written, researched and postulated about the impact of the economy on scholastic sports. As times continue to be tight, this is a trend that certainly bears watching.

By Alan Goldenbach  |  October 27, 2009; 12:16 PM ET
Categories:  National issues  
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