Money matters even in high school sports, at least according to an interesting analysis of state championships in North Carolina by the Raleigh News & Observer.
According to the report, 557 championships in the state’s two biggest classifications from 2001 to 2013 were won by schools with less than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch. Schools with more than 60 percent receiving assistance won 112 titles. Schools with more than 80 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunch won 10 titles. Free or reduced lunch is an indicator of students in need.
As might be expected, schools with a high percentage of poorer students rarely win titles in sports such as golf, tennis and swimming. That is related to the cost required for access to those sports plus the cost of private coaches.
“Making sure that high school athletics success doesn’t become something only for the elite is a national topic,” Bob Gardner, the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said in the report. “There is no question that more and more students in more and more sports are specializing, and there are costs involved with that. We have long known there are advantages in sports like golf, tennis and swimming, but we are seeing that in other sports now.”
Gardner mentioned sports such as baseball, softball, volleyball and lacrosse where the gap is widening.
The North Carolina high school association has been providing additional money for the neediest schools and will add more money to the overall pool based on a formula that looks at poverty levels, the free and reduced-lunch lunch program and the number of varsity sport. The added funds should amount to roughly $150,000 per year to be shared among the 402 schools in the association.
“We see the need,” Karen DeHart, an NCHSAA assistant commissioner, told the newspaper. “We are trying to find ways to help those systems that need the help the most.”