Pay to Play My Ass
Now before you think I’m going to argue that all high school athletes deserve to play for their high school for free, I am going to stop you. I’m not going to sit here and argue about individual high school decisions that range from lack of budget funds and athletic interest, but instead talk about my own tribulations with one particular sport payment.
When I was a freshman my high school joined a Co-Op girls ice hockey team with neighboring schools. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a co-op team is based out of one high school, but allows members of other high schools to participate on the team.
For someone invested in ice hockey my whole life I didn’t question the opportunity to play for a high school team. Now the issue wasn’t about traveling, but instead the price to play.
For a girl to play on this co-op team, the registration fee was $1000.00. Now this is an extremely high rate to pay for any high school sport. What was even more startling was prior to my senior year the fee increased to $1580.00. That was over 150% increase in price in just one year of playing.
As a member of the team who saw little ice time but had a leadership role, I was pressured into paying this price in order to continue being a member of this team. The worst part about this was that to play on the boy’s ice hockey team, the cost was just over $400.00. Now that is a significant difference in price. $400.00 is a much more reasonable price that I would’ve been willing to pay without question.
The issue with gender inequality in sport has long been an issue I have looked into in several aspects. I was never put in a situation prior to this that I truly felt the weight of this inequality. I understand this wasn’t the boy’s teams fault, but rather an administrative issue who’s argument was that the cost of ice time was expensive and that we would be getting new uniforms. Ironically we practiced at the same venues as the boys team come my junior and senior year and we got new jerseys the year after the boys’ team did; a team that saw no increase in participation fee.
This is a personal example of why advocating for female athletes is so imperative to me as I pursue a career in sports. I know that there is a lack of coverage and a high rate of discrimination faced every day by female athletes, but a high school participation fee was something I never took into consideration before this.
Hopefully one day I can go back to my high school and see a lower participation fee for girl’s ice hockey. Until then, I will continue to share this story.