In the past, playing high school sports was as American as apple pie and, in many cases, students were expected to pick at least one sport to play. However, in the present day, this idea seems to be growing less prevalent with much more emphasis placed on academics, especially in Park City. This may be due to the fact that people are much more concerned with growing intellectually, but I believe that other factors are also influencing the declining participation, in particular, the cost of playing high school sports and the financial burden this places on students.
Park City High School, like many other schools around the country, require fees to participate in any school sport. This fee can fund many beneficiary items such as coaches and transportation, but it can also become very costly.
According to Park City High School Athletic Director Doug Payne, "School fees to play any of the sports are $60, except for football which is $85."
I play for the PCHS boys' tennis team, and in addition to the $60 school fee, my family was required to cough up another $330 to play on the team. During the season, the team also had the opportunity to travel to St. George for a tournament. I wanted to go on this trip but in order to do so, I was required to pay another $145. These costs may not seem too overwhelming at first, but they begin to add up and can place a financial burden on the athlete as well as his or her family.
In order to reduce this financial burden on individual families, many of the Park City High School teams try to raise money through fundraising, such as selling team merchandise, Christmas wreaths, banners or even Booster Juice coupons. However, this still places additional pressures on student athletes, as they are now asked to become salespeople.
According to Mr. Payne, Park City High School has begun to implement some programs that assist students to pay their athletic fees when they do not have the necessary resources. For example, many sports teams have sponsors specifically for this purpose. These sponsors provide money to less fortunate students so that they are able to participate.
Even with these programs in place that could possibly make it easier for students to meet the financial requirements, some athletes may still be left out. Ultimately, I believe that all of these costs are pushing more and more students away from participating. Parents and students may begin to ask if all of this money is worth playing a sport for a three-month period of time. I am not an expert of any sort, but I personally believe that, as the costs of these sports continue to rise, participation will go down, especially in the less prominent sports. I believe we could learn a few lessons from older generations and maybe go back to a simpler style of high school sports.
Jason Barth is an editor for the Park City High School newspaper The Prospector. To see more of his writing and articles by other students log on to http://parkcityprospector.com/ or check them out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ParkCityProspector