Pay-To-Play Fees Puts Parents With Athletes In Tight Spots

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For a number of years, more and more schools have had to rely on pay-to-play fees to allow their children to play sports.

Hundreds of dollars can be spent per sport to fund things like transportation and coaches’ salaries.

On Friday nights, Chris Myers loves watching his son play football.

It’s a family passion, but it’s also very costly.

“I also coach junior high football, and I see people struggling with it, but they do it for their kids to play the sports, and it’s a good sports program here to keep them active,” Myers said.

In Pickerington, parents pay $350 per sport, per child for high school.

Other parents in Ohio face similar fees.

“It’s just a lot of money to have to pay and do you tell your child, ‘No, you can’t do it?’” said Paula Lee, a grandmother of a Westerville North student. “Sometimes you have to.”

It’s a situation that can put parents in a tough spot.

Those in the South Western City School District pay $150. Hilliard parents pay $100, and Westerville parents pay $240.

Columbus City Schools has never had a fee.

Those in Pickerington seem to pay the most, though.

“We took a look at the numbers for 2011 and 2012 and then again from 2012 and 2013, and in that span we actually went up between the two junior highs and the two high schools up over 100 athletes,” said Mark Aprile, the director of student activities for the Pickerington Local School District.

In some areas, participation isn’t as affected.

The numbers sometimes go up, sometimes down.

As for a day when pay-to-participate fees disappear, the Ohio High School Athletic Association hopes so but says it is unlikely.

“In my lifetime, I don’t know if I’ll ever see an absence of pay-to-participate fees,” Tim Stried the OHSAA Director of Information Services said. “That’s kind of one of those things where once the school adopts a fee, they’re kind of there to stay.”

“As a parent, everybody would like to see it gone, but yeah, I don’t know that will happen” Myers added.

Some schools do hold fundraisers like car washes to help with the costs.

Tax levies also help, but those come down to the approval by taxpayers.

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