Many years ago in Accounting 101, I remember hearing the phrase “the cost of doing business.” The context at that time referred to fixed expenses that accumulate when operating a business. The “cost of doing business” is also a relevant issue in the area of education-based athletics and competitive activities. That concept does involve financial matters, but it goes into other areas as well.
FINANCIAL COSTS: There is no question that the cost of operating interscholastic athletics/activities programs is rising significantly. At the same time, the revenue streams that fund those programs are diminishing. Additionally, funding for all aspects of education has been in a downward spiral for quite a while.
Therefore, school administrators are looking for creative ways to raise revenue in every aspect of the educational landscape. Prudent financial management also requires stringent restrictions on the expense side, and that issue is a major focal point in many discussions I have with educational administrators.
Unfortunately, wide scale policies aimed at enhancing revenue and restricting expenses are difficult because priorities differ from administrator to administrator. Recent debates over the GHSA reclassification process demonstrated that cost-reduction options are often filtered through competitive-opportunity concerns.
There is a significant amount of data available to show that participation in interscholastic athletics and activities provides important educational benefits to the students that serve them well throughout their lifetimes. It would be a tremendous loss to our culture if the graduates of the future did not have these participation opportunities to help them develop fully.
However, I believe that we are approaching a critical decision-making point in high school athletics/activities. The cost of doing business will continue to exist, and administrators will need to modify some of the traditional policies and practices in order to meet those costs.
MANAGEMENT COSTS: When there is agreement that interscholastic athletics/activities are important enough to continue despite financial dilemmas, then there should be agreement that the management of such important programs needs to be the very best possible.
Regardless of how much money a school’s athletic program has at its disposal, there is a need to be certain that the quality of the program remains as high as possible. A school may not have a lot of money available to add resources, but personnel at that school can make certain that they take pride in what they have and how they manage it.
Coaches and administrators need to give full attention to the policies and practices that affect their athletes. I understand that educators carry out a variety of duties, and their time is limited; however, the “cost of doing business” in athletics requires extensive attention to management factors.
The GHSA has expectations that are communicated through rules about eligibility, sportsmanship, facility requirements, meeting deadlines, etc. Those expectations have been developed to enhance the quality of athletics and activities throughout the state. When those expectations are met, there is greater likelihood that the competitions will run more smoothly.
Most of the problems that arise in athletic programs stem from a lack of awareness of the policies and procedures, or from the failure to follow the rules they know. Adherence to rules is a part of the “cost of doing business” in education-based athletics and activities, and that business is so beneficial that it is worth the costs involved.
Ralph Swearngin, Executive Director