Editor’s Note: This column features frequently asked questions from high school athletic directors. This material is provided by David Hoch, a longtime high school coach and athletic director from Maryland and a member of the High School Today Publications Committee. If you have a question you would like answered, contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: How do you go about getting approval and district funding to add a new sport? –Mark, Arkansas
While you ask a very good question, Mark, you really first have to get a handle on the following conditions or prerequisites.
1. Do you have enough student interest to support a new sport? This does not only mean having enough athletes for the first year or two. You need to honestly ascertain if there will be potential candidates long-term. Are there middle school or youth leagues which can serve as feeder programs or would they also have to be developed?
2. Is the new proposed sport sanctioned by your state association? The answer to this question will largely determine if there will be potential opponents to schedule. Without a state playoff structure and regulations, many schools will not offer this option.
3. Are there sufficient, neighboring schools that also have this sport? If there are not enough local opponents, you would have extensive team travel in order to play a reasonable schedule. This would necessitate athletes missing a great deal of class time and this should be avoided as much as possible.
4. Will your facilities support another sport or will it necessitate using off-campus, community venues? Off-campus practice sessions and games bring about additional requirements such as transportation, equipment storage and equity issues. This usually also means more money will be needed to cover these additional items.
5. Will the addition of this new sport disrupt or enhance the Title IX balance and or create a compliance issue? Generally, adding a female sport will not cause a problem. However, the same cannot always be said when adding new opportunities for males.
If after analyzing these five items and the result shows positive, supportive answers, you are ready to create your proposal. This document should include the cost, timeframe for establishing the sport and be based upon a very simple premise – that the new sport will provide the opportunity for additional young people to participate on a team. As such, the students involved will gain lifelong skills and values.
The benefits of athletic participation are immeasurable in an education-based program and the goal of every school should be to provide the opportunity to participate to the largest number of students as possible.