Playing both home and away sporting events is a prep sports rite of passage, but in some places its more costly than others. Few know that more powerfully than the town of Ketchikan Alaska, which has been forced to pay upwards of $8,000 to get teams from other parts of the state to travel and play in Ketchikan.
As reported Ketchikan community radio station KRDB, the Ketchikan school district is forced to set aside tens of thousands of dollars each year to compensate opposing teams for their travel to Ketchikan, which sits at the far Southeastern tip of Alaska, hundreds of miles from most Alaska towns and schools. That arrangement might seem to be reasonable, except for the fact that the funding only flows one way; no one compensates Ketchikan to travel and play other schools.
The director of the Alaska School Activities Association, Billy Strickland, said that the arrangement was only natural because of how remote schools like Ketchikan present major cost issues for schools that could otherwise take advantage of cheaper, closer foes.
“Those of us that live in remote places, part of that remoteness is just the cost of everything’s higher,” Strickland told KRDB. “Whether it’s a gallon of milk in the store or what it costs to get a basketball game. There’s a high cost of living in remote areas.”
Strickland’s realism couldn’t sit in more stark contrast to the beliefs of Kayhi High School principal Sam Nelson, who had to deal with a minor incident when Seward High nearly canceled a game in Ketchikan earlier in the 2014 season.
“That is the facts. We live in Ketchikan if we want our kids to compete we have to come up with the money. That doesn’t mean it’s fair,” said Kayhi principal Sam Nelson.
“We’re all Alaskans,” Nelson said. “Anchorage doesn’t have possibility of raising money to send their team down here twice? We do. They’ve got a lot more resources. So yeah, that’s the attitude they have right now and I don’t agree with it, it’s not fair.”
At the moment, a majority of Kethikan’s $1.2 million school activities budget is earmarked for opponent travel and according to Nelson, that’s unlikely to be changing anytime soon.
“There’s gonna be the money spent in our community, the fans get to come and watch their kids play,” Nelson said. “The big thing is our kids aren’t on the road. We’re not missing two or three days out of school to go up and play somebody. And as a parent, I’d like to watch my kids play”