(Note: The following appeared first in the December 2005/January 2006 MHSAA Bulletin and
is republished in Lasting Impressions, which appears in the MHSAA's online Library)
Today’s schools, both public and nonpublic, are competing in the marketplace for students, knowing that financial health depends on student enrollment.
Today’s schools are marketing themselves with fabulous facilities, great faculties, and comprehensive and creative curricula.
And today’s most successfully marketed schools will also attract customers through an extracurricular program that is broad and deep, free of charge and message-driven. A program of many sports and many levels of teams, without the obstacle of participation fees, doggedly pursuing a mission of participation percentage more than win/loss record, variety more than specialization, opportunity more than elitism.
While this is slightly exaggerated to make a point, think of school sports as the loss leader that gets the customer in the door, as the extra features that make the sale (enroll the student), and the value added benefit of being educated through your school system.
This doesn’t work if the program is ill-conceived and sends the wrong message. For this to work, for school sports to be a healthy and effective marketing tool, the extracurricular program must be evaluated differently than all other sports by school boards, administrators, coaches and citizens. It must be evaluated with more than lip service to the mission of learning at every opportunity rather than winning at any cost.
Keep message-driven sports as a tool of integrity in your marketplace schools.