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Why the fall sports season is so important for high schools

Dialogue about how to handle a fall sports season has ignited in recent weeks. Some states’ schools have already canceled all of their summer practices and workouts; while others, including North Carolina, are still trying to nail down the details of what this summer and fall will look like. The importance of the fall sports season is paramount when it comes to high school’s athletic budgets.

Eleven-man football is the most attended sporting event for high schools in America, according to a 2018-19 survey done by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Football is significant in that it has the highest seat capacity, which means it brings in the most gate money. Due to the influx of money that it brings in, it usually financially supports the rest of the school’s athletics.

“Ticket sales from our five to six home games help fund multiple sports during the school year,” Washington Athletic Director Lane Raper said. “Without this funding, it would be hard to have new uniforms and equipment for some of the smaller sports. Also, football brings out the school spirit in students. It makes them proud to be a part of the school and the program.”

Without football, other sports don’t get to flourish. Uniforms, travel expenses, concessions, turning the lights on, etc. are all a vital part of each sport. The surplus of funds that football brings in assists the needs of sports that don’t draw as big of a crowd.

Football is essentially the “jump start” to the athletics season. It gets students, teachers, administrators and the community coming out to support. Students enjoy theme nights, fundraisers are abundant, and the smell of the popcorn coming from the concession stands is almost magnetic. What’s a good football game without a snack and a beverage? Not taking anything away from any other sport’s importance, football is dominant in terms of cash flow.

It’s very important that schools around the country do their due diligence in having a fall sports season, or they could struggle to meet the financial needs for other sports throughout the course of the year. This could potentially result in the cancellation of some of the smaller sports bringing joy to student-athletes.

COVID-19 may change the way fall sports look in the 2020-21 campaign, but it certainly shouldn’t keep players off the field.