Texas High School Football & How Athletics Budgets Help, Hurt Districts

Fall in Texas. Friday nights. Large crowds. Great atmosphere from students, parents & alumni alike. Towns shutting down all across the state. It can only mean one thing – Friday night high school football. 

In Texas, high school football is not just sports or a school activity, it is a way of life. It is what many people from the area hold on & cling to after high school & even after college is over. You will find many players who will talk to each other for years & years about great plays that took place in a particular game, or hear from city officials, police officers, doctors & others forever about how they used to play and how they were great on the field. 

Eagle Stadium
Allen Football Stadium in Allen, Texas. 

Many players are held in the highest regards in their town, whomever they marry – held in highest regards; their children – instantly held to the highest regards. High school football in Texas – in many ways – is more important than watching the Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Dallas Cowboys or any other higher level team in the state. 

The culture is so popular that the Emmy-award winning TV show “Friday Night Lights” was based directly off of the culture, & featured appearances by Texas Head Coach Mack Brown. As of 2012, 235 current NFL players are from the state of Texas, not including likely future picks Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, & Bryce Petty. 

But, what happens when the love of the high school football tradition gets in the way of teachers having jobs? Concussions being diagnosed on the field? Budgets in strife? 

In 2011, the Allen, Texas high school football stadium opened up. It has a variety of amenities including its own weight room, a high-definition video scoreboard that measures 3,400 square feet, and the cost of the stadium – $60 million. 

Now, that’s where the concern comes in. 

During the 2011-12 school year, Allen had a budget deficit of $4.5 million dollars, while the construction of the stadium continued, which led to 84 teaching/support positions being eliminated (source: Examiner.com). To offset the deficits, the county had a vote to raise property tax by 13 cents. While doing that, it still wasn’t enough to fully offset the costs as it left the city with a 1.8 million dollar deficit. 

I don’t agree with teachers ever losing their jobs at all. There has to be a median solution to the situation, especially in a time where you are losing other enrichment classes in schools going all the way to the elementary level. Our parents grew up in a generation where outside of our parents, our teachers were the biggest role models around & helped mold us into women & men, but our generation is going to see where many teachers are out of work, overstressed, overtired, & undercompensated for the work that they do. 

Keeping with the Texas school situation, where the issue could be curbed a bit is in coaches’ salaries. It is completely understood that high school football coaches are considered the most important employees in the town where they coach at, even more than city officials. But the low-end of the top 26 high school football coaches is $60,000 a year with the top coach in the state, in Katy, making $114,000. 

I am okay with coaches having a high salary, but I can’t fully justify a coach making over $85,000 to $90,000. Im not one to say who should be making what, but some of that money can go back into the teacher’s pockets, and still be able to give to the athletes & celebrate their hardwork & sacrifice with a state-of-the-art facility. Athletes work as hard as any group of students, even more, as the studies show. The athletes score higher on standardized tests, graduate at a higher rate, & have a better overall attendance. It is clear that the student-athletes definitely work as hard as their contemporaries, if not more, & they deserve all that they can possibly receive. 

But that doesn’t mean that other students & teachers don’t deserve to celebrate in the success of the athletes. The money that is coming in from the various outlets for sports – corporate sponsorships, television deals, commercials, etc., should be seen at the basic academic level as well as the athletic fields. 

For the people that want to see the athletic budgets cut back drastically, I can’t agree due to the fact that sports brings a student body & community together more than anything else that a school can do. People can identify with going to a high school football game on a Friday night, and to take away something from the town that people will always remember and have to enjoy & celebrate, that is absolutely ridiculous. Its not about cutting back, but distribute better. 

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