“The whole idea of sports and what makes it great is that it doesn’t matter where you come from,” said a second Canyons District mother, who just moved to Utah from a state that relies on booster clubs, not parents, to cover the costs of athletics. “If you have talent, you can succeed and you can make it. Now they’re taking that away with the pay to play. You never even get a chance to show your athletic ability.”
Coaches have mixed feelings about the optional fees. In many ways, coaches have no choice but to offer many of the programs that drive those optional costs. It is simply the reality of modern high school sports.
But some do ask where does it end?
“The fees have gotten enormous with no criteria,” said Logan coach Mike Favero, whose only additional cost is a $75 summer camp. “What’s the right number and what’s fair?”
Granite District and its school board made massive rule changes aimed at controlling the costs of athletics and activities. Still, Fraser looks at what his schools are offering and asking, and acknowledges there is still room for improvement.
“The only hope that we have of getting this changed is to expose it,” he said. “I know it can be done.”
Alder said the state includes information about this rule in its financial training. While she believes most coaches and principals want to abide by the rules, there are some exceptions. She hopes school districts will ask more questions and keep better tabs on costs.
One coach, who asked for anonymity because he feared retaliation, said there is a serious lack of administrative leadership. Principals should be aware of the laws and rules, and they should be training their coaches. Alder said parents can report unfair or unlawful fees to the district or state. Parents said they’re reluctant to do that because their children just want to participate.
“I just don’t think that’s right,” said the second Canyons District mom. “The tradition of sports should be that everybody is able to play. It’s based on your talent. To me, this just seems like it’s based on your money.”
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