April 22, 2010 – We all know that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is facing a $640 million deficit for the next school year. One cost-cutting measure proposed by the district was a $1.4 million reduction in coaches’ stipends that would have eliminated many sports in 2010-2011.
With 35,000 student-athletes, competing in 14 sports at the 72 LAUSD high schools, the LA84 Foundation Board could not stand by idly and watch as high school sports opportunities evaporated.
In response, the Foundation board approved a grant for $252,600 to cover the 25% cut in coaches’ stipends in three sports: cross country, swimming and track and field. We asked others who care about sports to join us by saving other sports. The response has been gratifying. Nike, the Dodgers Dream Foundation, Chivas USA, Weingart Foundation, Lincy Foundation, Easton Sports Development Foundation, Pete and Ginny Ueberroth Trust, Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation, AEG, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas and individuals have joined us. Together we have raised $1.4 million to save every LAUSD high school sport next year. This funding is a one-year commitment designed to assist the district while it identifies and develops new revenue sources.
Some may wonder why high school sports are worth saving. First, learning, practicing and playing sports are inherently fun. This is a simple truth.
In a more utilitarian sense, though, high school sports participation has been shown, in study after study, to correlate to a wide range of positive educational, social, psychological and health outcomes. These include higher grade point averages, graduation rates, self-esteem and levels of civic involvement, as well as reductions in obesity, delinquency, teen pregnancies and drop-out rates. Recent research suggests that the correlation is not simply a statistical coincidence, but that high school sports participation is a cause of these positive outcomes.
The LA84 Foundation understands that maximizing the benefits of high school sports requires strong leadership from administrators and coaches. That is why our support of LAUSD sports in 2010-2011 will be coupled with advice on future fund raising opportunities, and a commitment to training coaches through the Foundation’s highly successful Coaching Education Program.
Every day, there are hundreds of sports played and thousands people elevated by what they see, feel and imagine through sports. There are many ways to help create a brighter future for our young people. This effort is just one example of the possibilities for others.