Is paying to play sports in high school worth it? And, if so, what's the magic dollar number when it isn't?
Feel free to comment...
The use of participation fees to help fund interscholastic athletics in Michigan high schools has nearly doubled in the past seven years, and in that same time period the fees paid have increased by more than 30 percent, according to surveys taken by the Michigan High School Athletic Association of its member institutions.
The most recently completed survey indicates that of 475 member schools participating in the survey, 221 schools – 47 percent – charged participation fees during the 2009-10 school year. There are 768 senior high schools in the MHSAA membership – the survey generated a response rate of 62 percent. This was the sixth survey of schools since the 2003-04 school year, when members reported that fees were being used in 24 percent of schools. In the last survey in 2007-08, fees were being used at 43 percent of schools participating.
The most popular method of assessing participation fees continues to be a payment for each sport a youngster goes out for, used by 42 percent of schools in 2009-10. A standardized annual fee per student was used by 28 percent of schools in the past year. Both of these percentages have remained stable over the last five surveys.
Since the fall 2003 survey, the median cost per sport has increased from $50 in 2003-04 to $70 in 2009-10 – a 40 percent increase. In that same time span, the standardized annual fee for a student-athlete has increased from $75 to $100 – a 33 percent increase.
Beginning with the 2004-05 survey, schools were asked in the survey if they had a cap on what individual student-athletes and families could be charged. Caps on student fees have been used by the majority of schools, but that number has dropped from 71.3 percent in 2004-05 to 54 percent in 2009-10. The number of schools instituting a cap on what a family pays has fluctuated from 41 percent having a limit in 2004-05 to 46 percent in 2007-08 and back down to 43 percent in 2009-10.
Other data from the survey in 2009-10 shows that 68 percent of schools with participation fees have some kind of fee reduction or waiver program in place based on existing programs for subsidized lunch and milk; that 14 percent of schools using fees report a drop in participation; and that less than 1 percent of schools report losing students to other school districts because they are charging fees.
The fee waiver number is up from 60 percent in 2003-04; and the number of students transferring out has been in the 1 to 3 percent range over the course of the six surveys.
Five percent of schools not assessing fees responding to the survey in 2009-10 report transfers to their districts because of the absence of fees. This number has ranged between 2 and 7 percent over the six surveys.