The importance of balancing education and athletics


Kyra Wisneski, Opinions Writer

Every Friday night from early September to the end of November, bright lights illuminate high school stadiums across America. Players spend grueling hours at practice, students religiously attend every game, and hundreds of fans gather to support their local football teams take on rivals and compete for state titles.

Football has become an integral part of many high schools and their surrounding communities. Not only is high school football a social event, but it is also a huge source of funding for many schools. Through apparel, ticket sales, concessions, and sponsors, football programs generate a significant amount of money.

Because the football program produces great revenue for a school, it is understandable why football programs are heavily funded over other less attended sports.  

At Richard Montgomery, in addition to the money produced through seasonal games, the team holds multiple fundraisers throughout the year. With 100+ members of the football team, fundraising appears to be a main source of revenue for funding the program.

Junior Freddie Martinez, who has been a part of the football program at RM for three seasons, said, “Football does a lot of fundraising over the course of the year, not only during season, which really helps us a lot.” Martinez explained these fundraisers include, “[the] lift-a-thon in winter, mulch sale during the spring, and the car wash over the summer, along with selling rewards cards.”

It is important to recognize a large amount of money generated by our football program to explain why football may have more funding than other sports. The funding for various athletic teams inherently cannot be equal because the teams do not bring in an equal amount of money.

An issue arises when funding for other programs is neglected or if profits from other sports’ fundraisers are unjustly given to football. Marianne Fessel, a junior who has been on the soccer team for three seasons, said, “It is hard to compare funding as the soccer team has different needs with way less people than football, but I have never felt as if the soccer team did not have quality equipment that prohibited us from succeeding.”

Football generates revenue for the school and in turn, the football program is funded. Yet, we must not lose sight of the true purpose of attending high school. Fessel said, “[High School] is not some company… In the end, It doesn’t matter how much a sport brings in, it’s about the students and their learning at their schools.”

The culture we live in highly values athletes, entertainers, actors, musicians etc. Because of this, many high school athletic programs are finding themselves caught in a trap: capitalizing off the attention of millions of consumers and turning amateur sports into a multimillion-dollar business.

While at RM football culture may not be as extreme or intense as other parts of the country, adverse effects of a disproportionate focus on football may be felt in the lack of emphasis on education.

Martinez said, “our coaches value education more than anything and constantly try to tell us to keep our grades up…we [are] always reminded to stay on top of our work and keep our grades in check because we want everybody eligible.”

It is imperative that, despite the money generated by our football program, the focus of students and coaches remains on obtaining an education. Receiving a high school diploma is life-changing and is becoming a necessity to attend college or enter the workforce. Players and coaches must prioritize academics above athletics, and not simply to meet eligibility.

Finding a right balance between generating money for the school and proportionally funneling that money back into the program, while keeping an overall focus on education is a struggle for many high school football programs across the country.

At RM, it is crucial that we maintain this balance and continue to support all athletic and academic programs.