Chicago area school lowering fees to increase athletic participation

January 30, 2015 / Athletic Administration
More athletic programs are turning to participation fees to recapture funds lost through their depleted budgets, but it’s a delicate balance.

Raise fees, you lose participation. Eliminate fees, and schools could be forced to cut sports.

FootballTeamMundelein High School, north of Chicago, has announced plans to lower participation fees beginning with the 2015-16 school year. The idea is to increase participation, making it more attainable for poorer students who can’t afford the school’s fees.

According to the Daily Herald, student-athletes pay $200 per sport with a $300 annual cap for families. Next year, the cost will be $75 per sport with a $225 cap.

From the Daily Herald:

In an interview with the Daily Herald, board President Karen Havlik extolled the virtue of student athletics. 

“Kids that participate in athletics do better in school,” she said. “They have more social contacts and they’re learning to participate in team building.”

Officials began looking at reducing athletic fees after meeting with a predominantly Hispanic community group, Havlik said. As a result, they wanted to increase minority participation in sports and make sure fees weren’t keeping poorer students from joining teams, she said.

“I don’t think fees and the cost should keep kids from participating (in sports),” Havlik said. “If that lets more students participate, that’s great.”

Wilhelm said he’s heard anecdotally about teens who have stayed away from athletics because participating would create a hardship for the family.

The potential financial impact of the fee changes on Mundelein High School District 120 wasn’t immediately known.

Coach and Athletic Director has conducted a nationwide high school sports survey for the last four years, and each year more schools implement participation fees. The majority of athletic directors acknowledge them as a “necessary evil” in an economic climate that requires additional revenue streams to maintain athletic offerings.

With the economy recovering, and schools beginning to reap some of the benefits, it’ll be interested to see if more schools address their participation fees.

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