Sports has more value second time around |

Sports has more value second time around

Although the Vikings dropped a pair of basketball games at Hug on Tuesday night, it was a good night to be a South Tahoe High fan.

Back home, the Lake Unified School District Board of Education was recommending to fully fund athletics for the 2005-06 school year. The board is expected to approve the recommendation at its next meeting on Feb. 22.

Considering that some athletic teams were nearly eliminated a year ago during the budget process, it’s encouraging to see that local educators place more value on sports than wins and losses.

Until Support South Tahoe Athletic Teams entered the fray, it appeared that student athletes were going to pay a hefty fee to play any sport in 2004-05. Under the initial Fair Share plan, basketball players were going to cough up $210 apiece and football players $200.

Fortunately, the board isn’t counting on STAT matching the $200,000 it prodded out of businesses and townspeople. This generosity has demonstrated how much school athletics means to the community, and the school district should be forever grateful to these people.

Even though the board is overwhelmingly in favor of keeping athletics, they are still considering a Fair Share plan to collect money that would be used toward funding athletics the following school year.

Interim Superintendent Lorraine Garcy said any student who can’t afford the donation will still be allowed to play under a scholarship program. The district can only take donations from students if the money is earmarked for transportation. Since the main cost of funding athletics at the high school level is transportation, then this plan should be completely legal.

Listening to community members like Karin Holmes and Peter Grant express their love for school sports on Tuesday night made me less concerned that athletics would ever be cut by the district.

“To even think of cutting this incredible avenue for our students is more than shortsighted to me,” Holmes said. “Give our students and our community the opportunity to grow, to learn and share and achieve.”

The board really couldn’t afford to give community members another reason to leave the South Shore. Rising housing costs, a limited job market and a high cost of living have already sent enough families scurrying off the hill.

“Does anybody think we’re not going to lose 40 families if we cut sports out?” Grant said. “I’ve had a front-row seat for this last nine months listening to people. (Sports) are hugely important to people. It may be cheerleading, it may be cross country running, it could be any sport … these people will leave.”

Since each student is worth approximately $5,000, Grant pointed out that by eliminating sports the district could lose at least 40 additional students and be dealing with a deficit of more than $200,000 next year.

If Tuesday’s recommendations are accepted, 17.5 teacher positions will account for nearly $1.2 million of the $1.9 million necessary cuts.

Several teachers made impassioned pleas to the board to consider trimming administrator positions instead of continually cutting teachers from the budget. There was never a mention from these teachers that sports should go before their colleagues.

Teachers realize how important sports are to their students and, after all, shouldn’t these children come first?

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve

Yingling can be reached at

(530) 542-8010 or

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