High School football and basketball means big money for everybody except the players themselves. Why shouldn’t a high school player be able to receive some type of financial assistance for his four years of play on the team.
Think about it. When a high school plays a game the schools make a sizeable profit, especially if the team has a winning season. The coaches get extra pay, organizations selling things at games make money, booster clubs make money, Athletic suppliers make money, they even make money selling pictures of the players in the program booklet.
Everybody makes money, except the players themselves. They can’t make a dime.
If they sleep in a homeless shelter, they can’t be assisted to live in a decent house.
If they walk to school, for whatever reason, they can’t be given bus fare by someone who is not their parent.
If they have no shoes on their feet, no one can give them a pair of shoes to wear.
A band member can get help buying an instrument or a majorette can be helped to buy a baton, but according to the rules a student athlete can only get help from his legal guardian. If his mother is the legal guardian from whom he naturally and legally gets help, his uncle or his aunt or Sunday School teacher can’t help him with any assistance.
Further if a player lives in a house where the lights and water are disconnected because of non-payment and if the family is assisted with their utilities from a source other than the person that is the legal guardian of the player, the player can be kicked off the team.
If the church raises a donation to help him with anything, while he is a member of the team, he could get kicked off the team and the school could be fined.
Here are the exact words of LHSAA rule number 2.4.2 “No student-athlete may accept financial assistance from any other person, business, or organization unless it is received from one upon whom the student-athlete is naturally or legally dependent.”
What’s worse is that its also against the rule for the parent to accept help on the player’s behalf.
Ironically, none of these rules apply to other students of a school. Band members, dancers, flag team members, drama club members, debate teams, student council leaders, etc.; none of these are prohibited from receiving assistance, or even cash donations for participation.
In 2014, the NCAA changed a rule that allows 65 teams in the Big 5 conferences to make their own rules relative to incentives given to players beyond scholarships for college players. In addition to scholarships, some conferences allow players to receive pocket money for gas for the cars, laundry, etc. Each conference is different. It’s small but they do recognize the need.
In college, a student does receive a scholarship to play. In high school he plays for the school for free. If he gets a broken leg, twisted ankle, broken neck or dies, the most he gets is a moment of silent prayer, but the school gets the money. Many teams require the players to pay for their own catastrophic injury insurance. That’s a bummer.
Let’s face it, athletics is about money. We would love for it to be about sportsmanship, leadership and learning life skills, but when we get down to it, it’s about the money.
What if every team added $1.00 to the price of a ticket, to be placed in a fund that would be used to help guarantee every player a scholarship amount toward their college or trade school tuition upon graduation? At a minimum of 3,000 people per game (some are much more than that) with 11 games a season that would produce $33,000 a season. Over four years that would produce $132,000 without interest. If one fourth of the fund is used to assist the graduating seniors of any class (maximum of 30) there would be about $1,000 to give to each senior. More than likely it could be much more.
Let’s go further. What if parents and support groups were given the OPTION of paying $1.00 extra for scholarships, would that be workable?
Maybe the idea of providing some type of assistance to high school players seems laughable to some, but it is still worth considering.
Until it is considered, they will be the only students at school who are treated so unfairly. Maybe Athletes should give schools a copy of Bill Withers’ song, “Use me until you use me up.”