Comments about ‘High school sports: What it really costs to play high school football’

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Published: Monday, Sept. 2 2013 3:35 p.m. MDT

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What most of those "fees" are is money which goes to cover coaches for pennies on the dollar for the amount of time and hardwork they put into these programs. While I think some programs may take it a little over the top, its a great thing that the kids don't actually have to pay for their football equipment, otherwise you wouldn't be able to field teams. I've found that football is at times a ton cheaper than say, Lacrosse, where you have to buy everything.

Sugar City, ID

When I was in junior high, we had an intramural program that every participant really enjoyed. It didn't cost the participants anything and it didn't cost the school anything. Then I got to high school and because I was small and my parents didn't have any political clout, I didn't get to play high school sports though I would have loved to. I found out very early that there are two classes of students in high school: the few privileged athletes and the rest of us peons who got the great experience of cheering the elite jocks on to victory. Everything about my high school experience said: "You're nobody; the athletes are the truly great ones." If a lot more students want to play football or other sports than there is room for on the team, the solution is simple: cancel inter school sports and replace it with a well organized intramural program in which anyone who wants to participate can. It would be very inexpensive and a lot more students would be able to participate with no cost to them.

Provo, UT

Would these parents that are complaining also complain when their son's and daughter's coaches are not winning games? Can any administrator guarantee that no coach has been ever fired because they didn't win games?

Take Coach Peck, are there any parents complaining about his program? Any complaints about the kind of coaching he brings his players? Any complaints about kind of experiences he gives his players such as a trip to Texas to play national level talent?

Bottom line, these parents have no clue about the real costs of athletics and football. I love Amy Donaldson's work but am disappointed a bit in the research here. Do parents have any clue about the cost of a helmet? And that a certain percentage, maybe half, HAVE to be refinished every year by law. How about the cost for the district to insure the program? How about the costs of pads? How about the cost of athletic trainers, their equipment etc.? And Utah coaches are dirt cheap getting paid cents on the dollar? If Peck was coaching in Texas he could demand a 100K salary just for coaching.

Parents need a REALITY CHECK!

Provo, UT


Give me a break. There isn't a football program in Utah that cuts any player regardless of size and ability. Some sports do have cuts but plenty of sports take everyone that wants to compete such as x-country, track, wrestling, swimming, and football. The idea that every sports team cuts and is exclusionary is totally false. I do agree that I would love to see schools ALSO do Intramural athletics, nothing wrong with that because some sports do have to do cuts. But even with the ones that do, there are others that don't, no excuse not to compete.

mapleton, UT

What it sounds like to me is that parents are not teaching their kids about working for what they want and expecting everything from their parents. I have raised 2 kids through high school playing basketball, football and soccer and both were in club level teams. They worked through the summer to pay for their fees....and trust me they were in the $1,000 of dollars for each sport and they paid for them. Now they are paying off as they have full ride scholarships for their hard work they put in earlier in their life. I hear parents complain all the time about costs then I see their kids doing jack...parents get your kids to work for something they want...you all know the saying " have skins in the game" trust me if the kids work for it, it will pay off in the end. When I was in high school I coveted an A 2000 baseball glove... I bought it with my own money for $105....with inflation costs now it would be around $250...Parents start teaching your kids how to work for what they want or need.

  • 1:18 a.m. Sept. 3, 2013
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The Big One
Salt Lake City, UT

Murray didn't respond? well that is because Murray hasn't had a team in years. However the 3 million spent on the field that ain't ready speaks volumes about the administration of the school and district.

Rural sport fan

No one is talking about the other side of this coin...why are the camps and colleges charging HS football teams so much?

Maybe at the bigger schools coaches get some of that money, but at the smaller schools, nearly every penny goes to the team for gear, video equipment, or a blocking dummy or two; and coaches are lucky to get a new team shirt out of the deal. The teams I know of use fundraisers, the kids can raise every penny they need for uniforms and extra gear by selling team shirts, or working a booth at the county fair. And their coaches don't get a penny for the summer camps, weight lifting time, or anything else.

One more thing...If you are paying $40K for 8 seasons of sports, you are crazy. $5000 for one season? Come on now, that's just a bit much, don't you think?

Heber City, UT

In our capitalistic society work = money. For a kid to compete in high school sports s/he must work and the family must work. That means, investing time and money far in excess of the dollar amounts reported in the article. The article does not capture the actual amount of resources (money/time) invested by students and families to participate in high school sports.... individual camps, individual training tools and coaches (e.g. Nike Sparq, personal trainers) that are typically invested by the students and families. The true cost of high school athletics are paid by the students and families outside of the school. The school system only subsidizes the costs not borne by the students/families. But why? from the perspective of the high school, ask a high school administrator the value of a successful football team for the school's "Spirit". Schools work better when students are a part of and identify with winning sports programs. From the perspective of a parent, many days of the year, my student works more diligently and has learned more from playing high school sports than they did that day in the class room about work = money.

Salt Lake City, UT

The article raises some questions about who is in charge, and some needed disclosure of the costs of athletic programs. Our society sometimes chooses to be ignorant of costs of "services" or programs we like.

We are in a period of stagnant family income and over the top expenses for school activities, not just athletics but music, drama, etc., need to be reviewed and decisions made on the necessity of them as they relate to the program.

Communication between the school administration, board and the students and parents is key. I do not have a silver bullet to suggest as a cure but I do think that some adult supervision is required when boards and administrations let athletic and other programs grow beyond reasonable bounds.

I am in favor of high school athletics, and other programs such as music and drama. They meet a lot of needs of students for growth and self expression, and recognition. I just think that attention to the costs involved cannot be ignored or brushed off.

Parents need to be more involved and more discussion and disclosure of budgets needs to take place earlier on in the cycle. to avoid surprises.

South Jordan, UT

I'm finding it is becoming extremely expensive to have your children participate in many of the activities that are important to them. I have relative that was a cheer leader in a local high school and it cost $2,800, $800 just for the uniform. She is no longer a cheer leader because her parents just couldn't afford it.


Football parents have it easy. Having a daughter on the sideline cheering has already run $1200 since May. This doesn't include $10 weekly tumbling lessons. Trips to out of state competitions ($5000). And then there is the allstar teams that run $200 - $300 per month excluding about $500 in uniforms and choreography. But when it is all said and done, watching her compete at a SPORT she loves is worth it.

Woods Cross, UT

We have lost sight of the fact that taxpayers establish an educational system for EDUCATION. Solution? Make athletics community-based. Pull them away from public education.

Athletics has become the tail that wags the dog. Many high schools need large stadiums with artificial turf. Huge weight rooms, hiring coaches a higher priority than hiring academic teachers, student-athletes missing class time to travel, etc. Most high school administrators are ex-coaches. They tend to see academic classes as a place to store students when they are not on the field.

And how many athletic scholarships are awarded to Utah students? Very few, and the sacrifice on the part of the students, parents and the taxpayers is enormous. Wouldn't our dollars best be spent on academic/vocational programs?

Tremonton, UT

Being a former coach it is impossible to successfully operate solely on the budget given to a coach at the beginning of the school year. I barely had enough money to buy new basketballs and other necessary equipment. There needs to be funding from other avenues whether it be a booster club or fees. It my situation our booster club did the funding but that required parents to go and ask local businesses for a sponsorship. Some parents would rather pay a fee than "work" for the booster club. Some fees are outrageous, but coaches and schools can have the student-athletes run youth summer camps, sell t-shirts and find other ways to raise money that required work from the players and not just a simple giving of money.

Parents make your kids work for the money, save it in the bank and pay for their own fees. If they really feel like they have to pay to play, then make them earn it. I know many coaches around the state and know they are high character individuals and will not discourage a kid from playing because he did not pay! Go find something else to complain about!!!

Cache county, USA

Chump change compared to the money soccer moms spend.
And usually it's for the moms life style.

Somewhere in the USA, UT

I have three children that all participated in various athletics/extra curricular programs during their years in high school. Yes the fees were high, however, our children were expected to work during the summer or after school to pay for their own choices of what they participated in, not because we couldn't afford the fees, but because it should be their responsiblility. I felt that high school was a stepping stone to life. Just like in life, if you want something, you have to go after it. That means devouting the time for practice and if need be, the time working to pay for the cost associated. Most of the best lessons our children learned came from sports. Nothing is free, you have to work for what you want, and life isn't fair. Sounds harsh but that is the real world. They also paid their own way through college, with a couple scholarships do to their hard work, and are great productive members of society that realize life doesn't offer "fee waivers".

podunk utah

be thankful your kid is in football and not club soccer or for the ladies, cheerleading... way more money out the door in these two sports. I praised the lord when one of mine picked football over soccer!


I have 5 sons, 3 have chosen to play football and one more coming that wants to play (the 5th did not). Because of our finances, my children have been taught that if they want to play, they have to pay. It is not because I don't want to pay, it is simply because I cannot afford it. So, each of my boys have learned the value of hard work - mowing lawns, getting jobs, etc. They have learned that if they put in a solid effort, they will see a reward for that effort.

I know what I am teaching them now will help them as husbands and fathers. Good work ethic is an extremely high priority in our home and my boys are learning the same thing my father taught me - if there is something good that is worth working for, then put in the effort to work for it. Most times, you feel better after putting in all the hard work than you do when you get the "reward".



Participation in virtually ANY school sponsored extracurricular activity has great benefits to the educational experience of a student. You can find hundreds, perhaps thousands of studies that show these benefits. Here are a couple of comments from several.

"students achieved much higher rates of retention and graduation, maintained better GPAs, and had higher good standing rates when they engaged in any of the activities within the scope of this study" (National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE] 2007 & 2008) “adolescents who participated in extracurricular activities reported higher grades, more positive attitudes toward school, and higher academic aspirations” (Darling, Caldwell, & Smith, 2005, para. 1)

I do agree that we need to be constantly vigilant with our schools and school boards so that cost does not become a prohibiting factor. But I certainly do not believe that getting rid of these school activities from the public school system is in the best interest of the student. The NFHS philosophy of STUDENT FIRST, ATHLETE SECOND can and should be maintained in the public schools. Many students would not maintain the academic standards needed to play without supervision of educators and coaches.

South Jordan, UT

Two things I think people really don't seem to understand.

(1) Things cost a lot of money and the prices seen in the article are just pennies on the dollar of the actual costs.
(2) You get a lot of value for Bingham's $700/yr. I think you need to look at both the number and the value. Obviously the number could be relatively high, but it is a lot of bang for your buck. If your kids aren't doing sports changes are you will still spend money on them to do something. Even if it is just sitting at home watching TV and eating Cheetos.

I would like to see this guy's justification $40,000 dollar estimate for expenses. This is a ridiculous number. If it were that expensive very few people would be playing hs sports.

Saint George, UT

Coaches make very little money. We have to remember most coaches make like 2 dollars an hour. The school fees barely cover that. They should make an article however about how much it costs to be a starter. That's another story.

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