Athletics’ Place in High School Education

By Jack Logan IV | Dec. 8, 2015

“I think athletics, clubs and activities are the glue to a high school. Without those, kids are coming and going and it's just work. If you don’t have enough clubs or sports or things for the kids to be connected to, you take away the entire culture of the school. That’s how kids are driven.”
-Eric Gardner
Sunrise Mountain Head Baseball Coach

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In the state of Arizona, funding for education has consistently been decreasing and if it continues to drop, beneficial extracurricular activities such as athletics could suffer dramatically.

Since 2009, the Peoria Unified School District has lost a little over $218 million, according to Deputy Superintendent Heather Cruz.

In fiscal year 2015, Peoria Unified spent $2.3 million on school-sponsored athletics, but only four percent of that was spent on supplies.

With a total student enrollment slightly over 35,000, that spending equals to less than three dollars on each student for supplies.

One of those students in the district is Sunrise Mountain High School junior Marlin Paschal. He started playing football in fifth grade and has been on the varsity team since his freshman year.

His mother, Karen Paschal, said that her son has grown significantly since he began high school and that football has been a major part of it.

Sunrise Mountain High School athletic director Mark Faust said that high school athletics provides a benefit that is not found in any other organized youth sports.

"The beauty of high school athletics versus what other kids do with youth and club sports is that it's an extension of our classroom,” Faust said. “There's always character development, there's always value-embedded lessons within sports and our coaches are teachers.”

Maricopa County is spending less than two percent of its budget on education which directly influences the amount of money that Peoria Unified School District can spend on athletics supplies for its students.

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