This story is syndicated from The Southerner, the newspaper of Midtown High School in Atlanta, GA. The original version of the story ran here.
Throughout public high schools across Georgia, sports teams are seeing a decreasing trend in equipment and gear for players. Many factors play into this rising issue, but it starts with the poor funding and little prioritization of sports teams.
Obviously, the simple approach would be equal distribution financially towards every team, but it’s more complex than that. Football tends to require the most equipment and highest budget, due to the larger number of players and equipment like helmets, pads, pants, and jerseys.
The logical answer would be to give programs the expected funding, and base extra money and donations based on turnout and success of each team. Performance directly correlates with attendance, and the argument of other sports not getting enough spotlight can be flawed in some areas.
If every sport received the same funding as football for example, there would be far too much money squandered on unnecessary equipment. That spent money would deplete necessary educational equipment and devastate the school’s finances.
That’s where conflict mainly arises. Education is obviously the priority at school, but there’s a line that must be drawn at some point with athletics. Most schools that run respective programs put 10% of overall funding into sports.
Because of the entertainment and community that accompany sports, appropriate funding benefits more than just the athletes. Home games, state playoff games, and all sorts of events throughout the athletics in a school can unite students and faculty. People go out of their comfort zone to socialize at games, and the togetherness of rooting for a team is special in high school.
To build a culture around a program, it takes attention from fans. Kids aren’t going to play for a program with zero attention, minimal wins, and no credibility. In order for teams to gain popularity and attract players to their program, having proper gear coming with a roster spot is essential.
Another factor that plays into building a community with a school is merchandise. Players on a team deserve apparel to represent their school and team, and to show off their athletic accomplishments.
A boost in school spirit can also promote academic success and achievement. In fact, 75 percent of students with “the most school spirit” performed better than average. Students are motivated to pursue their academics seriously when they have a strong feeling of school spirit. Students who are proud of their school are more likely to have a good attitude toward their education, which leads to increased focus, improved attendance, and higher levels of effort in their academics.