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To charge or not to charge? That is the question

It is time for some uniformity in admission charges to high school sporting events.

I feel like something of a hypocrite writing about this subject since I have several cards, we grandiosely call them press credentials, that generally allow me free admission to sporting events. These are important to me, since I will typically see a minimum of three and have seen as many as seven prep sporting events a week.

It is the parents who get nailed. A husband-and-wife who just want to see their son or daughter play basketball can pay $28 a week ($42 on those not-so-rare occasions when there are three games). That is between $92 and $168 a month just for admission. This is in addition to the money they lay out for transportation, uniforms, shoes, equipment and other incidentals like hot dogs and soda at a game.

I am not against charging admission to sporting events. With movies costing $10 or more, high school sporting events are a bargain on a strictly entertainment, let alone an emotional, level. We accept paying admission to football and basketball games. The truth is that those admissions are necessary if we are to have quality programs at a time when we can't even afford to bus students to school. Both Petaluma and Casa Grande high schools took a financial hit when the Egg Bowl was cancelled. They took another hit when Casa and Petaluma ended up in different leagues, meaning they played just two (one boys and one girls) head-to-head basketball games instead of the four they have played in previous years, Admission fees are one of the prices parents pay to have their children participate in the high profile sports.

The questions seems to be whether or not to charge admission to all sports and whether or not all schools should be mandated to charge admission fees.

Policy, prices and enforcement vary from school to school and sport to sport. Petaluma High charges admission to baseball and softball games, but not to track or swim meets. Casa Grande doesn't charge at all for spring sports.

I've spun around about 360 degrees on the subject of admission fees, and I openly admit I'm being hypocritical since it is against the reporter's cannon of ethics, not to mention cheap nature, to pay for admission to any event. But I now believe that charging admission is a necessary evil. In a perfect world, we would fund our schools sufficiently so that all sports — in fact, all extra-curricular activities — would be free to all participants and spectators. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a world of politicians and lobbyists, so parents and school supporters have to dig deep.

We have to find a way to pay for our coaches, our equipment and our officials. At least a partial answer is game admission.

That being the case, admission policies should be uniform and consistent. It seems logical that admission to high profile events such as football and basketball should be more than to those that draw fewer spectators, but if you are going to charge for one, you should charge for all.

Every school should be involved. The charges should be done in every league, with each league having the option to set its own ticket prices.


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