Athletic funding is unbalanced, but is it really unfair?

Taylor Jackson, Sports Editor

Liberty High School has eighteen school-sanctioned sports (not including lacrosse or rugby, as they’re ‘clubs’ and not directly affiliated with the school), ranging from football to golf to swim. No matter what you’re into, whether it’s a high intensity game or something a little more laid back, there’s sure to be something for you. And in order to have these sports, you’ve got to have a way to pay for them.
Enter the issue of funding.
If you talk to a member of any smaller team, you’ll be sure to hear that there’s a bias when it comes to Liberty sports. The more popular ones, such as football or soccer, get more of the budget to get newer uniforms or nicer equipment, leaving golf to buy their own clubs and track to jump on a high jump mat that housed a small population of mice in the off-season. So how is funding spread among the sports at Liberty?
First off, Title IX of the Equal Opportunity in Education Act states that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Basically, girls can’t be denied the benefits that guys get in a school-sanctioned activity. This doesn’t only mean that you can’t be prohibited from playing football if you’re a girl; it also means that the mens soccer team can’t get nicer, much more expensive jerseys than the womens team, simply because they’re guys.
Now, that doesn’t mean that funding has to be equal per say—it just can’t be discriminatory in how it’s given out and used. For example, football needs a bit more money to pay for all of the equipment, as opposed to womens tennis. So, due to Title IX, mens and womens sports are on a fairly even playing field.
But what about other sports?
Football is both the Big Spender and the Big Maker: most of the revenue made from sports comes from those Friday-night-lighters, and that’s also where a big chunk of the money goes. From helmets to pads to the jerseys outfitting the one-hundred-plus athletes, there’s a lot of money that’s needed to keep everything running. In contrast, softball or baseball players already have their own gear from leagues outside of school, thus cutting down on all of the equipment that the school needs to provide. So, while it may feel a little lopsided, there is a reason for why it’s happening.
Now, I’m not saying that how the budget is split is always just due to necessity. There can be some favoritism when it comes to who those in charge give the money to. The bigger, more popular sports might get something new while the smaller sports are stuck with worn, aging equipment. But, before you point any fingers or get offended, think of it this way: schools need money. Sports bring in money. If you were in an economics class and asked to make a money-smart decision, wouldn’t you pay a little more attention to the sport that’s going to bring you the most revenue? Financially speaking, it’s the smartest thing to do.
Sports funding isn’t equal. However, just because we’ve come to that conclusion doesn’t mean you can go and blame your soccer buddy for why you didn’t get new Speedos this year. It isn’t necessarily fair, but it isn’t totally unjustified either. Some sports need more of the athletic budget in order to function, and that’s not necessarily their fault—it’s just the way it is.