Last week, the Valley News asked: As school districts struggle to meet the state’s 2-percent tax cap, what should be the first thing cut from 2012-13 budgets? The top three were:
72.73% Sports programs
10.61% Teaching positions
9.09% Music programs
According to one of our recent polls, the vast majority of people believe that sports should be removed from school budgets in order to help districts stay within tax caps.
So, it is now my turn to tell you why the majority of people are wrong.
Cutting sports is a flat-out idiotic idea, and the only people that I can see even thinking to take that step are those who were picked on by the jocks in school and thought, "One day, I will get back at all of them."
Sports is as important to education as the arts and music. The problem is, these are also the top three choices on the poll.
Do these people not remember going to school? Do they not remember the fun that comes from getting a chance to participate in these activities? If they did, then they would remember that there is a lot of learning that comes from these endeavors.
Cutting sports will also make them more selective and class-driven than they already are. We know that, even if sports are taken out of school budgets, they will live on through boosters.
Boosters can't pay for everything, though, and the remainder of the cost will have to come from the participants. That means kids who may have played for the team but are financially unable to will not be able to play. That's a problem, as some kids may use sports as their only release from otherwise tough days.
The same can be said for music and arts programs. How can educators or school boards make these items selective for only those who can afford it? That does not seem like a fair way to do business.
Keith Lobdell is the editor of the Valley News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org