The student news website of Omaha Central High School

The cost of high school sports

December 12, 2018

Central offers 21 different school-sanctioned sports for students to participate in. Many would think this large number would require a phenomenal amount of money to fund the needed equipment, especially for heavy-equipment sports such as football and baseball. However, the amount of money the school itself must put into the teams is surprisingly low due to fundraising, partnerships, and donations.  

“There isn’t a set budget for athletics or activities.  We currently function based on concessions, gate receipts, and activity card passes,” head of the athletic department, Luke Dillon says. However, most money made by activity card purchases go to the preforming arts programs.  

The school provides all basic and necessary equipment for the teams to play. “For the most part, the school pays for your singlets and head gear, which is what you need for wrestling, and they pay for the wrestling mat, and referees to conduct it, and our entry fees into tournaments,” head coach of the wrestling team, Jimmie Foster said. This example goes for most teams. The budget each team is given is scaled depending on the cost of the basics for each sport. 

It is important to remember that not all equipment needs to be replaced each year. A wrestling-mat should be replaced about every seven years according to Foster, which means the school only needs to find the money for the mat every seven years. All O.P.S. high schools recently received new football helmets from an anonymous donor, meaning the school won’t have to include new helmets in the budget for several years, and can put more money towards other things, such as shoulder pads.  

Some teams, however, do have to pay for certain parts of their uniforms. For example, the football teams provide helmets, pads, and jerseys for their players. “Probably the main thing [players] have to get on their own is cleats, but we do have a lot of old cleats if a player can’t afford some… Because some players from past seasons [and] we will find old cleats that have only been worn like three times,” 10-year assistant varsity tight ends coach and D-Line coach, Bryan Calder said.  

However, on occasion there are students who cannot afford the expensive gear needed to play at all.  

“If [students] are on free and reduced lunch we will automatically buy [suits] for them, and if they are having financial troubles we can meet in the middle,” varsity swim coach Brendan Smith says.  In these instances, the student talks to the coach, and the head of the athletic department, Luke Dillon, will make sure the suit or any other uniform is paid for. 

There are some coaches with a different mindset. 

“I’m not a fan of you having to pay for anything,” head coach of the wrestling team since 1997, Jimmie Foster said. “If you’re on our wrestling team you will not pay for anything that I say we should have to wear or do… You will not have to pay for anything out of your pocket.’’ 

Central also receives a lot of funding from their alumni, along with sponsorships with companies such as Coca Cola and CHI, who’s banners are displayed around school and during games. Teams do fundraisers, such as the selling of merchandise and gold cards, car washes and the swim team host’s a swim-a-thon, where people will pledge a certain amount of money to a swimmer for each lap they do in a certain amount of time.  Central’s long “tradition of excellence” is evidenced in the dedication of its athletes to keep supporting their teams regardless of any financial hurdles.  


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