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Friday, January 7, 2011

It's time: Changes needed to sustain Thumb sports

I read with interest a well-written story in the Midland Daily News a few weeks ago about the future of athletics in the Midland Public Schools system.
Obviously, major school budget problems are widespread all over Michigan, including in the larger districts.
Big surprise, huh?
Well, it seems the schools in Midland are being proactive and trying to do something about it.
According to the story, Midland schools formed an athletics action committee in September to find alternate ways to sustain athletic programs in the face of severe budget restraints.
The committee came up with several ideas, but the one interesting recommendation the committee is thinking about is to inquire about selling naming rights to district athletic sites and/or events.
Come again? Really? I am sure the old-school thinkers are saying, “No way.” 
I did too, at first.
But it’s time. 
Let’s face it, the Rotary Phone Era and the Atari Age are long gone. 
Yes, I have had a hard time giving it up, as well. 
But we now live in a Facebook World. A What Have You Done For Me Lately Society.
Try these.
How about the Huron Daily Tribune Ubly vs. Harbor Beach Greater Thumb East Football Classic?
Or the Salon 302 Volleyball Tournament hosted at Bad Axe?
Or the Buckley’s Shoes Thumb Area Cross Country Invitational?
Yes, it’s a tremendous change. 
But it’s time.
It’s time for schools in the Thumb to come together and form a committee like this to see what kinds of ideas are out there. Each Greater Thumb Conference and North Central Thumb League school needs to nab one representative, a parent or even a student-athlete. 
No athletic directors or administrators. It will be their job to set this up at their respective schools.
The group needs to meet some time soon in a centrally located spot and get the ball rolling.
Bold? Sure. 
But it’s time.
Just throw ideas out and see what sticks. 
I will actually volunteer my time to be the facilitator, if they wish.
If not, fine too.
Right now, GTC and NCTL athletic programs are struggling. Schools are already eliminating freshmen sports. Some have implemented pay-to-play fees. Some do not even print seasonal programs any more. 
Any way to save a buck, they say.
Well, I say let’s see if we can make a buck. Pool our resources together and see what happens. 
Even the Michigan High School Athletic Association has jumped on board. John Johnson, communications director for the MHSAA, told the Midland Daily News, “I think that time has come.”
High school sports — any extra out-of-classroom experience, for that matter — are important parts of the educational process. Even if you are not an athlete, I bet you remember that championship football game back in the day more than the science fair you attended in high school. 
It’s just the way it is.
In the past year or so, area schools have bickered — just a bit — on scheduling and conference alignment.  
One school isn’t happy it has to travel all the way to Bay City to play a game. 
Another school isn’t satisfied with the number of home football games it has for the season.
Well, it’s time to stop the bickering — and start tinkering.
Big changes need to happen — and they need to happen quickly. 
This year, no freshmen sports.
Next year, no junior varsity sports.
The following year...
It’s time.

Any comments? Good or bad?


Anonymous said...

your right, start now while there is time.

Anonymous said...

I like it. If I had a business, I might even sponsor a game like that.

bodeen said...

Very good article. Change is always tough to deal with but it has to be managed from out front. This change is real and it's coming from the fiscal side of things all the way up to the Federal level. I like the idea of getting a fiscal sponsor to help offset or defray costs as a way to manage the athletic/academic side of things. If I was incharge of a local governmental/school entity I would lobby hard to get some tax incentives for business to get more involved. Good effort to get things started. Lead from up front.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a really good idea if the schools can get the local businesses on board. But how many businesses have extra cash lying around to sponsor sporting events?

My dad owns his own business, and prior to 5 years ago, he would regularly help sponsor local golf outings, athlete of the week, etc. But like everyone else, he has had to make cutbacks.

Jason said...

I would like to see the John Deere Energy Bowl featuring Ubly vs. EPBP.

Anonymous said...

This would be a spectacular idea if you could find businesses to support all of these games. Would there be enough interest coming from businesses that the area could actually do this for an option? This should definately be looked into.

Anonymous said...

I understand that times are tough for schools, but I don't like the idea. I hate how every pro sports arena has a corporate name, and every college bowl game has a coporate sponsor. I like that high school sports are just about the kids and the school. I agree that schools need to find alternative methods of funding, but I don't want to go in this direction. Lets not loose what seperates high school sports from the rest.