The sound of pads popping, helmets colliding and whistles blowing ushers in the start of another high school football season for communities all over the country. The sport not only builds a competitive spirit, it teaches discipline and instills a camaraderie and confidence in student-athletes. Yet there are schools where the sport of football is a foreign concept, and where the hurdles are many to instituting or reinstating a varsity football program. Getting over those roadblocks means research, persistence and the support of both the school and a governing body of interscholastic athletic competition.
Things You'll Need
- Budget plan
- Backing of school board
- Community support
- Booster club
- Student athletes
Attend a number of school board, district or committee meetings to get a realistic idea of the operating budget for the year. During this time, it's important to inquire as to the cost of other varsity sports programs being run by the school. If it's a sensitive fiscal time, it is less likely that money will be redirected from educational endeavors to support an athletic program. If there's money in the budget, however, it's time to take the next step and reach out beyond the local school board.
Gauge interest in high school football by floating the idea to other parents and students, and by reaching out to other local schools to plan what it would take, financially, to add the program. According to the Seattle Times, this was one of the steps taken by Bellevue Christian School to get its football program up and running, as it helped to form a plan that rallied the community and got people excited about the opportunity.
Start a high school booster club to help offset or defray costs for the football program. The Houston Chronicle noted in 2008 that booster clubs are becoming the latest line of defense against the financial hardships high school sports face, and most can file for tax-exempt status as nonprofit organizations. The money can also be used for things like equipment, a weight room, stadium costs and concessions.
Familiarize yourself with the governing body that oversees high school interscholastic athletics in your state. Your state scholastic athletic association regulates high school sports, including eligibility, safety and health rules for teams. It also organizes and controls championship games, and certifies referees.
Work with the school athletic director and other designated officials to iron out logistics such as where the team will play and where practices will be held. The athletic director and school board will also be instrumental in hiring a coaching staff and helping to field a full roster of players, as well as scheduling practices, scrimmages and games.
Tips & Warnings
- The backing of the school's administration and athletic director will be vital to the launch of a football program, especially if the school is dealing with a limited budget for athletics.
- High school alumni are often a starting point for sports fund-raising, and can bolster support in the community for the football program.
- Be aware that booster clubs are handled differently from school district to school district, and many can't choose how their contributions are spent. They can only make suggestions.
- Academic eligibility is also a key factor for retaining student athletes for football. If enough student athletes fail to remain eligible based on state guidelines, it could pose a significant challenge to fielding a team.
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