The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Committee has made sporting events — aside from playoffs — free for students for the rest of the year. We applaud them for that.
The committee is also considering making sporting events free for students permanently, and they are talking about including performing arts events. We think that they should.
The idea was brought to the committee by the student government during a January meeting. Student representatives say they think allowing students to attend games for free would be a boost for school spirit, and we couldn’t agree more. Kudos to the students for bringing this forward.
Athletic Director Mark McCarthy tells us that ticket sales at some sporting events have been in place as far as he remembers, dating back to when he was an MVRHS athlete in the 1970s. Why ticketing was created in the first place is unclear, but revenue from sales goes into the general fund — it doesn’t go directly to support the programs school officials are charging for.
Some schools across Massachusetts charge their students to attend games; some don’t. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) requires fees for some playoff games, to manage and staff tournaments.
We believe that the money raised off students throughout the school year is minimal. School officials believe that about $25,000 was raised over six months of sporting events — in total, not just from students. The high school musical last year raised a little more than $20,000 in total. But with a school budget of $25 million, are tickets paid for by students really necessary?
Now, $4 admission for a game may not sound like much, but we’re guessing high schoolers don’t bring in a lot of money. And it can add up. If you’re living in a household deciding between a heat bill and groceries this winter, a few dollars for one kid to attend one game likely won’t be a high priority.
The benefits for free sporting events for students would be great for the entire school community, not just individual athletes and ticketholders: The high school could see more equal representation of fans attending girls’ games; on an Island where a common complaint from youngsters is, “There’s nothing to do,” free school events are a good option; for a student struggling to pay for a ticket, a sporting event or musical is the exact place they should be; and imagine the boost our young actors and athletes will feel with larger crowds filled with peers. Overall, it’s a win-win for school spirit.
We’ll leave it to school officials to come up with a plan for how to make up for the relatively slight loss of revenue. However the school committee works it out, charging students to watch their friends isn’t a great way to fund a school budget.