Our Opinion: Be proactive

The Warren County School District board of directors is in an unenviable position.

Extra-curricular participation has dropped, enrollment is down, teams are playing with barely enough subs to constitute a full team.

Why aren’t more students participating in athletics?

There’s no simple answer.

And once you chase Alice down that rabbit hole to see, you’ll enter a wonderland with more distractions and options than you’ll ever realize.

In reality, students are pulled hundreds of different directions.

Parents are forced to commit to a decision with their kids far earlier than the high school level on extra-curricular activities. Kids as young as seven, eight and nine are participating in travel sports, dance, cheer, gymnastics and other competitions. The financial commitment is not small for those parents. So, by the time the student reaches high school, they’ve laid out their extra-curricular path in front of them.

Even if it’s using those years in travel sports to decide they DON’T want to play a particular high school sport.

For the most part, students are not going to suddenly start playing football or join the band after investing thousands of dollars to play travel baseball almost year-round.

“We think the kids (today) want what we wanted. For every kid that wants to be at states, there are a dozen with less lofty goals,” said a coach at Monday’s school board meeting. “The intent of the PIAA co-op (system) is to provide opportunity. This move is taking opportunity away.”

Not so. Maybe the opportunity to start on a high school softball team would be taken away, but not the opportunity to play softball.

That opportunity — unlike years ago — is presented from five years old on up, in Little League, in travel softball. It’s all privately funded.

Those “dozen with less lofty goals” aren’t really helping the situation.

Obviously our population — and student population and student-athlete population — are declining, thus making high school sports teams smaller and smaller, and making it difficult for the outlying high schools to even field a team.

But we’re not sure we’d vouch for the commitment and passion of those “dozen with less lofty goals,” especially if the survival of a sports program depends on it.

That said, this is about numbers, and the numbers are obviously leaning in one direction.

Consolidation of sports, which is going to happen whether we want it to or not.

One way or the other.

Win or lose.

We can be proactive, and continue programs with well-thought-out cooperative agreements between schools, or we can let the programs die due to a lack of numbers.

We vote to be proactive.