In Part I, No-Cut Polices: Absolute or Independent Practice? / Realistic or Idealistic, I detailed three obstacles that I see as having direct impact on keeping all athletes who try out for a team.
In this final installment I will elaborate more on some of the major stumbling blocks facing such a proposal; issues that must be effectively dealt with for no-cut programs to become the standard for all.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that we divide all the athletes up into different teams (as mentioned in Part I) and are able to find qualified coaches for every one of these teams. How will the schools be able to safely accommodate the numbers of kids participating, especially in indoor sports?
With the number of teams and sports we already offer at my high school, gym space is most certainly at a premium (especially during the winter). They are utilized at full capacity from 3:30 (after school) until almost 10:00 p.m. at night.
I know of several coaches who also have morning workouts starting at 6:00 a.m. depending on what they are doing and what part of the season they are in. If we increase the numbers of teams, and/or athletes, when will they practice?
Do we go to midnight during school nights or start practice sessions at 4:30 a.m.?
What about building bigger/newer facilities?
That would certainly fill the need, but will the community want to sink the kind of resources into these newer/bigger gyms for after-school sports?
Does the school have the land to put these new facilities up?
And what about equipment?
My gymnastics program had approximately 22 to 26 athletes, from top to bottom. We practiced from around 3:30 until 6:30 p.m. (and after our practice was over, the park district took over with their programs). We had one floor exercise mat, two sets of uneven bars, three beams, and a vault.
If I tripled my numbers, which could easily happen, I would need more space, equipment, and coaches to run the same practices with the same type of efficiency and effectiveness.
Where will this all come from?
What about the larger number of lesser skilled athletes that will need more and heavier spotting (physically helping someone through a skill)? Does this type of an environment create more or less safety issues for the program?
And adequate space can be an important issue for all sports, not just gymnastics.
Proper drill training in sports like volleyball, basketball, soccer, tennis, badminton, wrestling, etc. require ample room to efficiently, effectively, and safely practice skills, do drills, and perform game simulations.
Can all schools accommodate the needs of the student athletes if we dramatically increase the numbers participating?
I know my school would have difficulty.
And what about space for the added games for all the new teams?
When will they be able to compete? How will all the different school teams be able to get practice time if the gyms are being used for games that need to be added for the new teams/levels created?
In outdoor sports like tennis, football, and soccer, where practice time is governed by the amount of daylight, how will they be able to get all these new teams - if that is the route they go, the practice time they need?
It is feasible to add some players to all the sports mentioned above, without substantial impact; however, if numbers do increase to the point where more teams become a necessity (a good possibility with no-cut programs), what will they do?
Will the school district, and its community, be willing to light all of their fields and/or courts to accommodate student athlete needs and increase available practice time (and space)? Are there parks nearby that they can use? Maybe even lighted parks?
Who will pay the bill for transportation to these parks, for the use of these lights?
With reference to this topic heading in almost all others above, money (and where the district is going to get it) is a big issue for absolute no-cut programs to exist. We cannot just say that it is so important that it has to be done.
Most high schools, including my own, are currently looking for ways to cut their budget, not increase it, and sports is one area that they do look at for making cuts.
Our school's athletic budget has been whittled down dramatically over the last decade or two. Athletes are already paying fees for participation in any sport they play, something that was unheard of not that long ago. Do we continue to raise these fees?
There are very few coaches at my school that do not complain about not having proper funding to run their programs the way they believe is best. The money just is not there.
Increasing numbers of athletes could easily put school athletic budgets under more severe financial strain.
Here are several financial issues that will need to be addressed in order to accommodate an "everyone makes the team" philosophy across the board (please excuse some of the repetition).
Where will the money come from for:
- the hiring of more qualified coaches to handle the larger numbers and/or teams
- new equipment for each program (more uniforms, balls, etc.)
- team transportation to and from away games (more games - more busses)
- transportation home from practice (more teams - more busses)
- officials for more home games
- newer, larger facilities - if necessary
- lighting to increase practice time available for outdoor activities - if necessary
- more trainers to accommodate the increase in athletes, and of injuries
Another consideration to keep in mind is the possibility of an athlete never reaching the pinnacle of their sport without the adversity of being cut from a team when they were younger.
That experience alone can create a situation of adversity from which an individual becomes deeply inspired to succeed, and so they do. And it is when examining a circumstance like this that you just have to wonder whether that success would have occurred if not for the adversity they faced.
Furthermore, there is a different scenario that may also be true. Being cut from a team could send an athlete on a different path of self-discovery where they find a passion for something else positive in their life, something that they may never have had a chance to experience without this push in another direction.
"One key to success will always be learning to bounce back from apparent failure, and/or unfairness of life, and create for yourself the opportunity to succeed no matter what cards you've been dealt."
Kirk Mango 2008
These are just a few of the issues surrounding the concept of no-cut policies for all. It is not that I am against such a proposal, in fact (and as I inferred at the beginning of this blog) I do believe that the positives of sports participation for all who want to play are well worth examining this idea further.
It is just that the present system's constraints make it unlikely to adopt such a unique perspective in youth sports.