Part II: Pay-To-Play Already Here In Illinois: The Days of "Free" High School Sports Are Gone

Mar 27, 2009 - La Verne, California, USA - High School Baseball 2009 - Bonita's JIOVANNI MIER #3 celebrates after a solo home run in the sixth inning during a baseball game between Charter Oak and Bonita at Bonita High School in La Verne Photo via Newscom

That USA Today piece With budgets tight, pay-to-play fees gain currency as way to avoid cuts, referenced in Part I has really got me thinking about how much times have changed.

You know, it just doesn't seem that long ago (at least for me in high school in the mid 70's) that our school system placed a higher priority on giving kids more well-rounded opportunities. There were all the normal course loads for those interested in moving on to college, yet we also had auto mechanics, electronics, even aircraft construction classes.

Title IX brought equal opportunity to the mix for women and sports programs flourished as schools seemed to get that everyone is not the same and all need to be given a chance to express their special gifts. At least before they chose the path in life they thought best.

May 12, 2010 - Clermont, Florida, U.S. - OT_322528_FOUN_SOFTBALL_2.EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times .(05/12/2010 Clermont) The East Lake High School softball watches Niceville warm up before playing in the Class 5A state softball semifinals on May 12, 2010 in Clermont. [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN, Times.

And the variety of experiences mentioned in both paragraphs above were very beneficial in that youth could draw on them to make better choices about their future. If not in high school, when and where else would a student have a chance at opportunities that help broaden one's perspective, express one's uniqueness, develop one's talents, and, possibly, see their true calling.

Now I am not naive and do understand that something has to give as budgets become tighter and tighter across our state's school districts. There just isn't enough money to go around and as each year passes, this will become more and more evident with schools looking to find areas to cut.

Bakersfield Christian High School tennis player Lily Schuler leaps through the air as she returns a shot to her opponent from Liberty High, Liz Brooks, Photo via Newscom

And, as much as I hate to say it, extracurricular activities (like sports) will certainly be one high on their list. Too bad, yes - but inevitable, quite possibly.

What is the answer? Well, typically I either infer options throughout my writing that may help with the situation I am discussing in a piece, or suggest possibilities at the end. However, in this case, I am not sure I have anything to suggest.

We are all in tough times right now. There just isn't the funding to go around. Eventually, it will likely come down to how important we, as taxpayers, think this all is. The more important something is, the more creative people tend to be in coming up with solutions.

Let's just hope it happens soon, for our kids' sake.


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