Area high school tennis courts, baseball, softball and soccer fields were lined with fans and parents the latter part of last week when we began our spring season of shooting high school sports competitions. This is a season that could and should change some policies at all school districts to not only bring parity to the fan bases, but also to help fill the coffers and share the financial burden across all sports and all seasons.
It’s been interesting to me over the years to see how each school district views the free access versus the pay-forview options during each season. Fall and winter sports fans have to pay to view their childs’ games, while the spring fans, for the most part, are free and clear to roam in and out of the stands free of charge. Something is wrong with that plan and it needs to be changed. Inklings of change began to be talked about at numerous districts last summer as the guillotine began to swing back and forth over district athletic budgets. The blade slices back and forth making everyone involved uncomfortable. Why is it though, that spring sports can be viewed free of charge, while all the fall and winter sports are charged an entry fee?
At other districts, the burden is shared equally. Davison charges to watch baseball and softball. So does Grand Blanc, but not Goodrich, Imlay City, Dryden and others. At these schools you can walk up to any field, plop down in your chair and watch a doubleheader for free. You can watch from most parking lots, especially tennis, and the only charge is for concession stand items. Seems odd for districts that are struggling so mightily to not see the big picture.
Some say it would be too difficult to make a temporary barrier, while others simply don’t have a spare dime to make this happen. It’s a pretty simple solution for all, however, that requires a ball of yarn, some tape, a Sharpie and an ink stamp. You simply rope off the area and no exceptions, everyone pays to watch the events. Concessions sales can only go so far to help the teams and the schools raise much-needed funds.
Now certainly, tennis doesn’t have near the crowds as any other sports, with 15-20 parents lining the courts at Lapeer West on
Thursday. Even so, 20 fans times $5 a pop is $100. Take the same 35-50 baseball or softball fans and that’s another $175-
250. Multiple that over the entire spring season, and I just don’t get why schools aren’t charging that entry fee. It seems like a pretty simple solution to me, despite the lack of gates and fencing in the very public areas on the schools’ grounds.
Davison and Grand Blanc actually have permanent fencing surrounding not just their ball fields, but the complexes and a booster or two takes the money and stamps the hands just as in the indoor sports. Other schools charge admission at their driveway entry, but for some that’s simply problematic because not everyone pulling into the larger parking lots on any given day is there for an athletic competition. Still, tables could be set up near the ball diamonds and soccer and lacrosse fields and admission could be charged. The options are plentiful and the solutions pretty dirt cheap to implement immediately. More permanent solutions could easily be made down the road using temporary fences or even plastic yellow tape that is so readily available.
The reward for the districts is undeniable and the fans would still come out to watch their kids, no question. Seems pretty cut and dried to me, and every school certainly needs the money.