How is the economy affecting high school football? Here are some early indicators
It’s still too early to tell how the economy is affecting high school football and whether things are better or worse than last year. But it is important to measure, since football programs generate a large portion of revenue for athletic programs at many schools.
It’s early but there have been some good signs — and not-so-good signs — out there so far:
- Buford athletics director Dexter Wood is encouraged by slight increases in corporate sponsorships and booster club memberships, along with taking “huge crowds to games at Gainesville and Carver-Columbus. Not so good? Attendance for Buford’s home opener against Westminster was smaller than normal, which affected concession sales. Also, advertising sales in the football program are down about 10 percent. Said Wood, “Overall, we are pleased that even during tough economic times, that we are doing well. We have not had to cut budgets, programs or equipment needs for our sports.”
- Creekside coach Johnny White said attendance is steady, with the team nearly a selling out against Tri-Cities last week. Not so good? “I think that businesses helping out programs have almost been too slow, at best,” White said. “Because it’s very hard to get money from franchises such as McDonald’s and Walmart, most of our efforts usually go to small businesses. Some of them just don’t have to the money to advertise because they are not sure if our students will spend money with them. We all have to do a better job of making sure that our community supports the businesses that support us.”
- Lovejoy raised enough money to go off to preseason camp for the first time in three years.
- Harrison coach David Hines said the team sold out of all reserved tickets. Harrison has also found some new sponsors but lost some longtime business friends of the program. Said Hines, “It has been difficult to find [sponsors]. We had some very supportive backers that had to cut back or not donate at all this year.”
- Forest Park coach JaJuan Wright said attendance for the home opener against Banneker was two or three times larger than any game last year.
- Parkview had its largest home crowd in three years against Stephenson, even though the game was on local TV. Said Parkview coach Cecil Flowe, “Taking in a football game is still a cheap entertainment night. A movie costs $7 for kids and $10 for adults and then a Coke and popcorn is another $15. At a game, tickets are $4-$5 for students and $7 for adults, while [food] is still cheaper than going to a movie or college game and pro game.” Parkview athletic director Mark Whitley is concerned over decreases in booster club memberships and fund-raising. “That has become the last priority on the list [to many parents],” Whitley said.
- Mt. Pisgah, aided by excitement surrounding the team’s Aug. 27 debut in its new stadium, drew the largest crowd in school history. Said Mt. Pisgah coach Doug Dixon, “We ordered more concession supplies than normal but we were sold out of drinks before halftime. Luckily we were able to get more to accommodate the halftime rush.”
- Holy Innocents’, like several other private schools, has seen some athletes leave school over financial concerns. Holy Innocents’ athletic director Ruth Donahoo said, “We are still feeling the effects in that we have players who have transferred to the local public school because of the economy and the ability to afford private school tuition.”
- Shiloh may have had its best gate in four or five years against South Gwinnett last weekend. Not so good? “Parents are still struggling to meet their booster club obligations [player dues],” said Shiloh athletic director Michael Nicholson.
- Mt. Zion-Jonesboro has drawn more fans, which may be connected to selling advance tickets at school for a reduced price. “Personally, I believe this is more of a sign of promotion on the part of the school rather than a positive sign of the economy,” said Mt. Zion athletic director Jason Battles. The team also had five pre-game meals donated, compared to none for last year.
Now it’s YOUR TURN. What are the small signs you are seeing at high school football games this year? Please post below.
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