As a Tier 2 athlete in the Steamboat Springs School District, I would like to share my thoughts on the recent discussion of Tier 2 sports funding. It frequently has come up that teens in Steamboat have limited safe, healthy and drug-free activities in which to participate after school. That’s exactly what school sports provide. Cutting such sports would take away a significant number of the safe, healthy and drug-free activities that are available.
The transportation costs for school sports programs are way over budget. The alternative of parent transportation has been brought up, but there are liability issues involved. I, however, feel that not all alternatives have been explored. Can smaller teams travel in smaller buses as opposed to larger ones? The issue of gear transportation has surfaced, and the use of a trailer could help. Everything Outdoor Steamboat at the middle school already has such a trailer. Bus sharing between teams also could be more meticulously coordinated.
The Steamboat Today reported Tuesday that the financial strain could result in Tier 2 sports programs being cut, leaving Tier 1 sports such as football, basketball and soccer. If you look at the participation numbers of Tier 2 sports, you will find that they are high — and in some cases higher than Tier 1 sports participation.
I am a skier on the Nordic and Alpine teams, so that is the area in which I can provide the most insight. This year, the team was guilty of going to races where just five to six athletes and a few coaches took a large bus. From spending many hours looking out the windshield of those buses, I can tell you that it is printed above the mirror that the bus capacity is 71 people.
As an athlete, my participation fees already are about $900 per sport, so my winter sports fees are more than $1,800, not including gear. This season, the ski team had six All-State athletes, a higher number than any other sports team. Yet because of budgetary constraints, we had no form of uniforms on the Alpine side, and the Nordic team had suits from several years ago with limited size choices. To the athletes, however, this was a non-issue.
Something that all Steamboat Springs High School students learn in freshman civics is supply and demand curves. If the cost of sports goes up, fewer people will participate and fewer fees will be collected. If the sports fees lower or even stay the same, the participation will remain higher and cost will be split between more people. This would have to be done by exploring alternatives.
As a community, we need to find a way to maintain the active lifestyle that Steamboat offers, and it needs to be present in the high school setting. This will not be the case if Tier 2 sports are compromised. Superintendent Brad Meeks, as the captain of our ship, please explore all options for solving this problem and don’t let your Sailors down.
Steamboat Springs High School senior