Athletes will pay to play

Play-to-participate policy will be implemented for 2011-2012…

Joseph Spencer | Staff Writer

On January 25, the Mason City Schools’ Board of Education announced that Mason High School interscholastic sports will be moving to pay-to-participate policy next year. It will cost a student at MHS $150 for each sport in which he or she participates. The reason for the switch was a need to save around $300,000 that the school would normally spend.

Sophomore Chris Pilone, a football, basketball and baseball athlete, said he was very surprised when he heard about the switch.

“When I found out, I was in complete shock,” Pilone said. “I had heard of other area schools…[moving] to this system, but with Mason[’s]…reputation as a wealthy area, I never thought we would have to pay-to-play.”

While this shock will wear off, the effect on the school’s team may not wear off, according to Pilone.

“The new pay-to-play system is going to affect a lot of sports, especially football, track and the other larger sports,” Pilone said. “It will show who truly is dedicated to the sport, … because your playing time is never guaranteed in high school sports.”

Sophomore Marti Sumrall also said she believes that the number of participants in sports will take a hit. She said she believes that it will limit the number of people due to the financial strain every season will be for a family.

“The pay-to-play [policy] will limit the number of people who participate, due the financial stress it will cause…families,” Sumrall said. “Larger families will have problems paying for all of their kids to participate in all of the sports they are interested in. For situations like this, [the district] should have some type of scholarships available.”

With the participation predicted to go down, Pilone said he believes that with the new pay-to-participate policy, the competition will increase among athletes.

“Athletes will now compete harder among each other, because they are paying to participate in sports,” Pilone said. “All-in-all, this switch could better [the] Mason sports program by increasing the competitive spirit among players.”

Parent of two high school athletes, Jim Deluca, said he agrees that this switch could help Mason sports programs, but he also said he hopes that it does not stop students from participating in sports.

“Sports are such a character-building [experience] that I would hate to think of students not being able to participate in them in their high school years due to financial [reasons],” Deluca said. “I hope that students will not suffer due to financial difficulties and that the money for sports can somehow be provided.”

Deluca said he hopes that families will be able to figure out a way for their sons or daughters to be able to participate in the sports they have interest in. If not, he said he hopes that the school will be able to step in and help out.

“Scholarships would be great,” Deluca said. “This way, the school would have ways to assist parents who would struggle paying for the pay-to-play legislation].”

Athletic Director Scott Stemple said he does not know yet know whether or not the district will be able to provide financial assistance to parents that will struggle paying for their children’s athletics.

“The district has not yet released the plan for instigating the pay-to-play,” Stemple said. “Within the next few months we will know all of the detail of the pay-to-play and the packages that will entail.”