Economics

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Citing Fewer Fans at Championships, State High School Associations Mull Raising Fees

3 Apr, 2019

By: Michael Popke

Officials at two of the largest high school sports and activities associations in the country say they are struggling to generate revenue.

Citing declining attendance at state championships over the past four years, the California Interscholastic Federation recently increased fees for member schools for the next two years. 

Facing similar attendance drops, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association administrators might want to raise ticket prices at its sanctioned state championships. But as USA Today.com reports, “[l]egislation brought forth by State Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) and enacted in January 2010 limited the amount of money the NJSIAA can charge for membership fees and tickets for state tournament events.”

That’s why the NJSIAA is — quietly, apparently — attempting to amend the statute. But it’s complicated, as USA Today.com explains:

The NJSIAA used to have a system where only teams that were .500 or better made its state tournaments. Now, enough teams get into the tournaments to fill out a 16-team first-round bracket. The fee is usually $80 to participate. For some sports, it’s little more.

While it may look frivolous to have a 4-16 softball team in the state tournament, it was what New Jersey’s athletic directors wanted. The fact that it was another revenue bump for the NJSIAA helped, as well.

“Somebody has to pay [to make up for the revenue drop],” said Bill Vacca, a member of the NJSIAA’s Executive Committee and secretary of the Passaic County Coaches Association. “So we may have to raise entry fees and then charge more money, but the state can’t charge more.”

It’s likely that other state high school associations are — or will be — facing similar fiscal challenges as the complexion of high school sports continues to change.

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