Ideally, all it would take to field successful sports teams would be determination, hard work, and the will to win. However, in the words of ABBA, it is a “rich man’s world,” and the reality is that a high school athletics program requires something tangible in order to properly function: money. But, there is only so much of this, so how are the allocation of funds determined?
Contrary to popular belief, the amount of money that a team receives is not determined by how many games it wins. “[A team’s record] has no consideration [in determining funding] because our view is [that] every student is [equally] important,” said PHS Athletic Director John Miranda. “Whether you’re on a 0–whatever team, or a state championship team, [you’re] just as important, so that’s not even thought of.”
Instead of using success as the deciding factor, the amount of funding a team receives depends on how much is required. “Everything that we do is based on need,” said Miranda. “There’s built-in budgets based on the amount of games [a team plays], [the cost of] transportation, and how many participants [are] in that specific sport.”
The amount of funds given to sports is flexible so that if one sport needs more funding than usual in a certain year, it can get it. This year, the track team has had no surface to train on due to the ongoing construction project. Consequentially, its budget was increased to pay for occasional buses to the Hun School so that team members could do workouts on a track surface. However, large projects are not covered by the annual budget. These projects are funded by board referendums that are completely separate from the athletic department.
Opinions of student-athletes regarding what should determine funding for specific sports often varies.
“Success should [definitely] factor into [funding] and also how well the team does and the number of people on the team,” said Aidan Donahue ’16, a track and field distance runner.
On the other hand, Katelyn Hojeibane ’15 agreed with the method of fund apportionment that PHS uses. “I think the amount of funding a sport should get should be based on how badly the team needs it,” said Hojeibane. “For instance, if their uniforms are like ten years old or if the surface [the team is] playing on is completely a mess, then [that team] should get priority.”
Varsity tennis player Christina Rosca ’16 said, “I think [funding] should be distributed … according to how much the equipment costs and how many people are on the teams.” Rosca, though part of one of PHS’s highest record-holding sports, is against funding teams based on their history of success. “It gives an opportunity to teams that aren’t performing that well at the moment to continue to develop and eventually become a team with great results.”
When new sports teams look to gain funding from PHS, they must go through a step-by-step process. Three years ago, the fencing team was created. During its first two years, fencing received no school funding and paid for its costs by using its booster club. This year, the district picked up the cost of the coach. Next year, pending board approval, the district will pay for the cost of games.
“The Board of [Education] agreed to fund the fencing team over a period of time to assure that there would be continued interest. So if there was a club that lasted a couple years, the Board of Ed wouldn’t pay a lot of money for something that didn’t last,” said fencing Head Coach John Varga.
The fencing team was able to pay for its costs that were not covered by the school through donations from parents, car washes, and an indiegogo site that sold autographed team memorabilia. Girls volleyball, which played its first season this fall and does not yet receive funding, has covered its costs through a “pay-to-play” system.
When the financial crisis hit in 2009, funding had to be tightened across the board, and the athletic department was not exempt from this. The changes in fund allocation that resulted from this reflected the department’s prioritization of giving all students a chance to experience high school athletics. “Different schools handled [the budget problem] differently. Some schools cut their underclassmen [sports] programs … What we decided was that participation was more important than just focusing on varsity teams, so we kept our underclassmen programs,” said Miranda. “Where the difference in funding came from was [that] we had to rely on our booster clubs … to pay for the cost of anything that’s a non-league game or a non-league tournament.” This affects some sports that have players who want to attend invitationals or other non-league tournaments.
Overall, when it comes to allocating funds for teams, the top priority for the district is ensuring that all teams have the funds necessary to compete. “[It’s most] important [that] our athletes … [are] able to experience athletics, [and] all of the good parts of athletics,” said Miranda. This past fall, 500 students, almost one-third of the student body, participated in sports, bringing the school closer to achieving its goal of using athletic funding to achieve a high rate of participation in athletics.