Staff Editorial: Pay-to-play

The routine morning workouts, the after-school tryouts and the long practices are routine in an athlete’s vocabulary in his or her quest to make a team. But next year, after seeing their names on the team roster, Mason High School athletes will have to hand over a $150 fee — a payment to participate.

To save money, the Mason City Schools District has decided to implement pay-to-play for interscholastic sports for the 2011-2012 school year, and the rounds of student athletes’ complaints have begun.

Though $150 seems like a hefty price for students to pay single-handedly, look at the reality. Students will most likely go home at the beginning of their first athletic season, sit down at the dinner table and tell their parents they need money for their respective sport. The parents will, in most cases, scribble out a check for $150 that same night.

It’s not true that pay-to-play will not have an effect on students — it will, naturally, give “being part of the team” an additional monetary meaning — but the weight of the fee’s impact will end up resting on the shoulders of parents and families.

So the classroom uproar over pay-to-play and the choruses of “that stinks” whenever the topic is brought up are essentially uneccessary. Pay-to-play for the average student will be just another round of handed-over money.

Parents enjoy the pride they feel seeing their son or daughter breaststroke through finals, or score the winning touchdown, or sprint the final leg of a race. If pay-to-play becomes what it takes to achieve their happiness, and therefore their child’s happiness, the $150 check will be paid without question.

Sure, some parents will require students to keep up another job in order to pay their own pay-to-play fee, or some students will have no option but to fork over their own $150. But for most students, pay-to-play will become as routine as a Wednesday morning practice.