Sports fees are too costly for multi-sport athletes

The experience of playing STA sports is an amazing opportunity, but it can become pricey for multi-sport athletes.


by Gabby Mesa, Staff Writer

After receiving 30 yards in personal fouls and being ejected for throwing a towel at a referee, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was fined $24,309. Chiefs fans immediately took to Twitter with comical suggestions for what he could have bought with the money, such as 1,715 Nicolas Cage pillowcases or 24,000 McDoubles.

Being a part of Chiefs Kingdom myself, I would like to start out by listing a few things I could have done with the money my parents have spent on relatively expensive sports fees, which at this point have totaled to be $1,300: 1,368 Bistro cookies, 1,950 retractable Papermate gel pens or a 52 month membership to the Y.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I love sports at STA. It’s just that the athletic participation fee per season at STA is $325. That can become expensive for a multi-sport athlete like myself. At Notre Dame de Sion High School the fee is $275 and at Rockhurst High School the cost is included in an activity fee that is added to tuition.

A study from the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health showed that the average school sports participation fee is $126 per child. While 38 percent of students do not pay sports participation fees, some received waivers for those fees, 18 percent of students pay $200 or more. That puts STA students in the 18th percentile.

According to athletic director Mark Hough, there are a lot of factors that have to be considered when comparing STA’s athletic fees to those of other schools. For example, Rockhurst has high-revenue sports programs like football and STA doesn’t charge its own students to come to sporting events. He suggests that comparing our fees to other school’s can be like comparing apples and oranges.

He makes a really good point when it comes to sports revenue. This is the part where I call out a lot of people…myself included. When I walk out onto the bleachers of a Rockhurst football game I see more STA girls than I can count, but often when I look out from the dugout from one of my softball games I can count the students there on one hand. If we want to put more money into our programs without having to do it through sports fees we need to support the sports that our friends play and buy things from the concession stands. If all STA girls made as much of an effort to go to our own even as we do to go to Rockhurst games who knows? The fee might go down from $325 to $310… baby steps.

The actual fee doesn’t cover most of the things that are needed for sports participation. When I first tried out for softball at STA, I had never played before. That left my parents with the burden of not only paying the sports fee but also buying me a bat, shoes, a bag and all of the other equipment that was not provided by the school. I understand that that is pretty much a personal problem, but more often than not, students have to buy new equipment when beginning a season at STA.

Outside of necessary equipment, there’s the spirit wear that “isn’t mandatory” (but basically is) that’s not included in the sports fee. No one wants to be the one on the softball team without the same $15 practice shirts as the rest of the team or the one on the basketball team without the same $140 basketball shoes as everyone else. According to Hough, anything that the athlete keeps after the season is over is charged separately from the sports fee.

I still remember during basketball season freshman year how excited the team was when we got our travel sweats and sweatshirts. I thought that the new gear had been covered by our sports fee. You can imagine the surprised look on my face when my mom called me in the living room to show me a bill.

With these expenses on top of the already pricey sports fees, the cost to participate can easily and quickly exceed $500 per season. I understand that not a lot can be done to adjust the sports fees because coaches and registration fees have to be paid but my biggest concern is that for athletes like myself who participate in multiple sports, the costs can really add up, becoming almost $1,000 per year. These expenses can discourage students from participating in all of the sports that they want to. STA is taking steps to make this situation better.

“The sports fees have remained the same for the past three school years and there are no plans to raise them in the foreseeable future.” Hough wrote. “This past year, we limited the number of sports fees a family will pay in one year to 3 total. We are working towards a system that will allow multi-sport athletes to pay less each additional season.”

All of that being said, I wouldn’t trade the experience of participating in STA sports for the world (not even for 1,368 Bistro cookies). There’s no way to put a price on friends that I’ve made through sports over the last 4 seasons, but if I had to…it would be pretty darn expensive.