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School Sports and the Pay to Play Movement!

Updated on March 9, 2012

Pay to Play!

With budgets getting cut and the economy in dire need of some help, schools are trying to find ways to offset lots of costs. One of the most expensive items in a school budget is athletics. A schools athletics program can run around $160,000 a year, and that doesn't include transportation costs. We are talking just coaches salaries, equipment, reconditioning of equipment, officials, awards, banners, and paint. The solution that most school systems are moving towards is a pay to play policy. Thirty-three states in 2009-2010 had at least one school system that has implimented a pay to play policy, and that number is continuing to rise.


How much does it cost?

School systems have been given the final say in how much they are going to charge their student athletes to participate in sports. The fee ranges from $20.00 to $275.00. Some schools have a cap on how much a family will pay. If they have a son and daughter playing sports in high school they will give them a discount, or if a student plays multiple sports. Middle schools are also jumping on the pay to play policy. Middle school fees are considerably smaller and range from $20-$50.00. Now, most of you probably feel that this is a terrible and should be illegal. I agree that it is a bad idea to charge students for extra-curricular activities, but for a lot of students who play AAU basketball $275.00 for the amount of practice and games a high school varsity player gets is a huge deal. Most people who participate in AAU, YBOA, or USSSA basketball teams will drop $500.00 (not including travel costs) to play in five tournaments and have practice once to twice a week. During the regular high school season most teams will play around twenty-four games plus a conference tournament and if you qualify a state tournament. That guarantees you twenty-five games maybe a lot more. Five AAU tournaments guarantees you around fifteen games at least and if you are good maybe twenty-five depending on how big the tournament. I hate the idea of a pay to play policy, but I think the school systems are seeing the amount of money they are losing to these organization and are trying to get their cut of the action.


Problems and Fears

Many people who are opposing the pay to play initiative, fear that these fees will be a huge problem for the smaller schools who do not have the students to pay for all the sports. People also feel that the schools will continue to charge more and more until only a certain class of people will be able to afford playing. The solution some people have come up with is to give scholarships or waivers for students who meet a certain financial criteria. However, who is going to make up the lost money? The school district can't or they wouldn't have instituted the policy in the first place. Pay to play may be something that can aid schools in providing athletics for their students, but will they really be able to provide it to all students. School officials have not placed this policy in my school district, but only time will tell. With the cost of everything increasing, I fear the worst. Support your local athletics.

Pay to Play Poll

What do you think?

See results


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    • guy6336 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      It is so hard to determine who deserves scholarships because the need right now is so great. At most middle schools the sports programs barely break even and some even go in the negative because of all the costs (officials, equipment, etc...). It would be hard to find the money to provide scholarships. Thanks for the comment your insight is greatly appreciated, and thank you also for your kind comments.

    • JBballimageVT profile image

      J Beaudoin 

      5 years ago from Vermont

      I would be okay with pay to play; however, I think that especially in schools that are already affording a sport for free, they should give a scholarship when a child asks. If it is free already, then they are now making money off of the players that are paying, that they were not making money off of when they weren't charging anything. In our area, school ball and AAU type leagues are a different level of play. If an AAU player needs a scholarship, they need to be a good player (unless it is 4th or 5th grade). It would be my opinion that, in middle school especially, children would not need to be an "A" player to get a scholarship, if they make it through try-outs. I really like your articles. I feel they are objective while still having your opinion.

    • guy6336 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago


      The write up was interesting. Thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      Dan Voell 

      6 years ago

      There was an interesting study today out of the University of Michigan about the inequalities of Pay-to-Play, I did a quick write up -


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