Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stop Screwing Over Hockey!

We ran into this issue here in Wonderland...Sun Prairie USA.
But the problem is a global one. want to know what the problem is?
It's that kids playing hockey get screwed all over this state...and probably nationwide.

What the majority of districts tend to do...and perhaps more so for smaller districts with less revenue, is that they gouge kids playing hockey by raising the athletic fee for hockey (or assessing a surcharge).
What Athletics Director Jim McClowry TRIED to do (we think) was to show that many other schools set their hockey fees so much higher (5 to 10 times) than the average per sport athletic fee. And therefore Sun Prairie should too.  Of course he was also trying to fund additional soccer teams.

We are transforming hockey into an elitist sport.  Only those with lost of money can afford to play.  A kid gets to play baseball or football for about $50-100 (rough average)  but for hockey, the cost can be anywhere from $0 to well over $1,000.  Why?  This is already a costly sport in that things like skates and sticks can get quite pricey.  And if your kid wants to be a goalie...good luck...those pads can cost a fortune.  Sure, football kids need cleats...but skates are far more expensive...and need frequent sharpening.

The fickle fingers of blame will always point to ice time as the culprit.  And that's time is expensive. But at the same time, we're not operating on a level playing field.

The cost of ice time
Yes, Virginia, ice time is fairly expensive.  For Sun Prairie, the cot of ice time for the Boys Hockey program for 2012-1 was projected to be a little more than $22,000. Yeah...that will cause a few folks to whistle.  Hang on...

What about the cost of other fields/facilities?
....before you get too crazy, ask what it costs to maintain Ashley Field for a year.   Ashley Field is used for...what...8 football games per year plus a few times by soccer, lacrosse, and maybe Sound of Sun Prairie.  Estimates of annual maintenance have been reported to be as high as $80,000 per year.  In November, 2010, the most recent estimate was that is cost $15,800 per year to maintain...JUST THAT ONE FIELD.

What about all those baseball fields and soccer fields and softball fields the taxpayers just built?  How much did they cost to build?  How much do they cot to maintain?   How come we don't hear anyone raising baseball athletic fees because of the cost of field development and maintenance?  Ferris Bueller?  Anyone?

What about the fieldhouse?  Nice gymnasium!  How much does it cost to heat/cool on game nights?  To cleanup?  Security?  Why is that not factored into baseball athletic fees?

Put away your arguments that we can't afford to build an ice rink with every high school.  We get it.  But it's the cost of education...right?  Jut because we have to purchase ice time, we shouldn't penalize a group of kids.  If you're going to say "No" to ice time, then maybe you should say "No" to a sports a basketball court.   Maybe we should can all the athletics and just focus on education.   While a few might agree with that concept, that's not going to happen...nor should it.  But we have to treat all sports equitably.

Budgeting differences
The one valuable piece of information we obtained on July 30th from Mr. McClowry was that the cost for ice time has to come out of Mr. McClowry's athletics budget.  Yet the cost of maintenance of any other field or facility is covered under the General fund.  Is that how every other district does things?  If so, no wonder why hockey costs so much.

Facility Use Fees
Perhaps if we actually CHARGED every sport that operated a "camp" in or on school facilities/fields, me wight be able to lessen the blow of ice time.

Don't we WANT kids to participate in athletics?
Jim McClowry has shown some great data that indicates that students participating in athletics get better grades.  They also become more connected and learn life lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship.   Some kids just naturally enjoy hockey as "their" sport...THEIR vehicle to connectedness and the rewards of athletics participation.  So why are we penalizing these kids for their choice?  If we raise the fee, participation is going to shrink...right?   Why would we do that?

Golf too
Sadly, the kids that play golf go through the same thing.  For them it greens fees.  The bottom line here is that, like ice time, paying for greens fees is no different than paying for field maintenance or utilities and depreciation on indoor facilities.