Problems With Pay-To-Play

As more school districts struggle to balance their budgets, they are

forced to either cut back the number of programs they offer or institute

Pay-To-Play policies. In 2012, 93% of schools which previously did not

consider using Pay-To-Play policies began to consider them as a

solution for their budgetary problems. These decisions are leading

students to transfer to private schools, other school districts, or worse,

stop participating altogether.


A growing number of individuals and charitable organizations are

helping to bridge these financial gaps, but a number of problems

still exist:


  • Nearly 1 in 5 low income parents report costs have forced their children to cut back on sports. *1

  • Sixty-one percent of children playing high school sports were charged a Pay-To-Play fee. The average fee was $93, but 21% of children faced a Pay-To-Play fee of $150 or more. After including fees for equipment and uniforms, the average participation cost rose to $381 per year. *1

  • Twelve percent of parents said that the cost of school sports caused a drop in participation for at least one of their children. Among low income families, 19% said their children’s participation decreased because of costs. *1

  • A recent study by the Detroit News determined that more than 88,000 high school student athletes in southeastern Michigan will combine to pay over $10 million in participation fees this year. *2

  • In the Lakota school district, located between Cincinnati and Dayton, the fee is $550 per child, per sport. Participation in Lakota is down 14%. *3

  • In Riverside, a local district outside Cleveland, fees are charged based on the sport: Cross Country-$521, Golf-$715, Football- $855 and Tennis- $933. *3

Character Development

In the last 15 years, the rate of violent crime among youth has

increased by 30%. The most effective way to reduce youth crime is

to steer adolescents away from criminal activities. There is strong

evidence that organized sports programs can reduce the likelihood

of teens committing crimes.


As we watch inner-city crime continue to increase, it is vital to provide

alternative programs for children in these areas. G.E.A.R. gives these

kids the opportunity to involve themselves in organized sports helps to

keep them out of trouble. Sports take up time that could otherwise be

used to cause mischief, while also giving teen’s higher self-esteem,

and helping them to meet new people with a positive influence. Studies

have found that criminal involvement usually starts around the age of 15,

and people who become criminally involved before the age of 14 most

likely end up having the longest criminal records and most persistent crime rate.




  • Areas with high crime rates also tend to have lower rates of physical activity. *5

  • Fort Meyers, Florida, police have reported that juvenile arrests dropped by nearly 1/3 since the city began their after-school program. *5

  • Compared to non-participants with similar profiles, program youth were significantly less likely to be suspended from school; participants with histories of involvement in the juvenile justice system were significantly less likely to recidivate; and participants without such involvement were significantly less likely to commit a first offense. *4

  • On school days 3-6 p.m. are the peak hours for teens to commit crimes, be in or cause car crashes, be victims of crime, and smoke, drink and use drugs. *4

  • Teens who do not participate in after-school programs are nearly three-times more likely to skip classes at school than teens who do participate; and are three-times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs. In addition, they are more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in sexual activity than teens not in after-school programs. *4

  • In the last three years, after Baltimore Police opened a PAL after-school program in one high crime neighborhood, juvenile crime in the neighborhood dropped nearly 10%, and the risk of children and teens becoming crime victims was cut nearly in half. *4

  • Rochester, NY Mayor Robert Duffy, a former police chief, says graduation rates and homicide rates have a direct connection. He noted “100% of our street-level drug dealers are high school drop-outs”. *4

  • A United States Department of Health and Human Services study reported that students who do not participate in athletics are 57% more likely to drop out of high school by their senior year, 49% more likely to use drugs, 37% more likely to become teen parents, 35% more likely to smoke cigarettes, and 27% more likely to be arrested. *6

Academics & Career Preparation

When it comes to getting ready for college and preparing for a career,

a student’s participation in sports continually proves to be pivotal.

Students who play sports not only perform better in the classroom,

but they also acquire many necessary skills that will help them in

college and as they being their careers.


The statistics show:


  • Athletes achieve between .55 and .74 higher grade point

       averages than non-athletes. *8

  • Students who were active in sports performed 10% better in

      core subjects like Math and Science. *9

  • High-school seniors who were involved in school activities were less likely to cut class than students who weren’t involved. Three times as many had a GPA of 3.0 or higher; twice as many scored in the top quarter on Math and Reading tests. Sixty-eight percent expected to get a college degree, compared to 48% of students who weren’t involved in school activities. *9

  • Students who participate in sports have a 15% higher classroom attendance rate than students who are not involved. Students learn to recognize that attendance is vital to their success. *7

  • The social component of sports activities instills a sense of community, responsibility and involvement. Students who participate in sports are more likely to feel confident in their ability to multi-task, and are more likely to request help on assignments they do not understand. Students learn to respect themselves and others, which leads to higher self-esteem. High self-esteem improves social, personal and academic performance. *10

  • Children and adolescents who pursue sports activities exhibit more active brain function, better concentration levels and classroom behavior, and higher self-esteem than their less-active counterparts. Understandably, all these factors seem to support better academic performance. *11

Physical Benefits

The physical benefits of competitive sports are the most obvious,

as much attention has been given to the role of sports and exercise in

decreasing the rates of obesity in our nation’s youth. While lower body

mass among athletes is certainly a desirable marker, it is not the only

purported advantage of the regular exercise that comes with sports

participation. Physical activity improves the immune system and helps

fight off illness; it decreases the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes

and high blood pressure.


  • According to the American Heart Association, an active lifestyle can

       reduce coronary heart disease by 30%-40%. Additionally, regular,

       intense exercise can reduce the chance of getting a stroke by 27%. *12

  • Since 1980, obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled (CDC). *13

  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. *14

  • Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis. *13


When children enter their formative years and begin to develop a

self-identity, it’s important that they be surrounded by positive influences

and stays involved in different activities. At-risk youth often lack a

positive role model, but sports can help provide one usually in the

form of a coach or teammate. It is easy for teens involved in sports

to find additional positive models to turn to and try to be like. Teens

benefit from the stability of a trustworthy coach, constant supportive

teammates and focusing on something outside of themselves. Early

experiences with mentors like these helps shape student athletes in

positive ways for the rest of their lives.


  • Being part of a team gives the teen a positive identity and feeling of

      acceptance by teammates and other peers. Teen athletes are held to

      higher standards as they are easily identifiable by the rest of the student body,    

      especially when representing their teams. *15

  • Students who participate in sports often forge close friendships with others on the team. These relationships are essential for mental, emotional and physical health throughout the high school years. *17

  • Teens involved in sports have higher self-esteem and are more likely to stand up to peer-pressure. Displaying talent in a sport raises confidence and gives youth a purpose or reason to improve their lives. *15

  • The social component of sports activities instills a sense of community, responsibility and involvement. Students who participate in sports are more likely to feel confident in their ability to multitask and are more likely to request help on assignments they do not understand. Students learn to respect themselves and others, this leads to higher self-esteem. High self-esteem improves social, personal and academic performance. *16

  • More than anyone else, females benefit from sports. Participating in sports give teen girls higher self-esteem and changes their focus from how they look to just being themselves. Sports help them expand their view on their future by breaking down female stereotypes. *15


*1) Singer, Dianne C. “Pay-to-play Sports Keeping Lower-income Kids out of the Game.” 14 May 2012. Web.

*2) Popke, Michael. “With Budgets Tightening, Schools Struggle to Keep Sports Affordable.” Web.



*5)”Up2Us Youth Sports Facts & Figures.” What You Should Know About… Sports and Crime Prevention. Web.

*6)McCaffery, Stephen. “Athletics and Academics.” 4 June 2012. Web.

*7) McCaffery, Stephen. “Athletics and Academics.” 4 June 2012. Web.

*8)Sondheimer,Eric. “LAUSD Stats Show Link with Spors, Better Academic Performance.” 8 June 2012. Web.

*9)Kronholz, June. “ACADEMIC VALUE OF NON-ACADEMICS.” Winter 2012. Web.

*10)Rivers, Sera. “Extracurricular Activities and Academic Grades.” Web.


*12) Crowe, Bonnie. “What Are the Benefits of Sports & Physical Activities?” Healthy Living. Web. 03 Apr. 2014.

*13) ”Childhood Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Feb. 2014. Web.

*14) OASSM. “The Benefits of Playing Sports Aren’t Just Physical!” Weblog post. 30 May 2012. Web.


*16) Rives, Sera. “Extracurricular Activities and Academic Grades.” Web.

*17) Chen, Grace. “10 Reasons Why High School Sports Benefit Students.” 30 Apr. 2012. Web.

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