Interscholastic athletics provide students with the opportunity for after school activity that promotes physical fitness, teamwork, integrity and overcoming adversity. In short, it teaches life lessons beyond the classroom by exposing young people to challenges, healthy associations with peers and adults, and continued teaching from coaches that are licensed professional educators. As education aims to teach and shape the entirety of every student, athletics plays an undeniable role. Moreover, it provides the vehicle to instill, develop and maintain community and parental support and pride.
Schools and school systems struggle with funding extracurricular activities, including athletics, as the costs increase and budgets tighten. Some school systems face a budget decision and debate every year when facing cuts in the operating budget, deciding whether to reduce teaching positions or pay for athletic equipment. Many school systems have resorted to a “pay to play” arrangement so that participation requires up front payment by the student or the parent – an arrangement that unfairly and unnecessarily restricts participation for too many students.
Historically, athletics in Nashville’s public schools have been self-sustaining: i.e. the operating budget for the school system pays the salary supplement for the coaches and nothing more. In essence, the athletic budgets at each public high school and middle school in Nashville pay for equipment, officials for the games, safety equipment, and every other cost of operating athletic competition. Of course, if possible, a self-sustained athletics budget is preferable since it avoids the pitfalls of a “pay to play” system as well as the annual battle over budget cuts and priorities.
As costs for athletic equipment, safety equipment and other costs rise, the primary support and funding source for athletic programs has remained the parents (either through paying admission to the game or by being the one who buys the candy bars or other school-based fundraiser). A different approach is necessary, and The FANS is dedicated to finding and providing the support and system of support necessary for the interscholastic programs in Nashville schools to thrive.
In addition to providing funding support, The FANS will lead the charge to promote the athletic programs internally within the schools and school system and externally throughout the community. Moreover, The FANS will become an advocate and watchdog for accountability of athletic funds at the schools.
The FANS’ vision is to develop and promote perpetually sustained, effective and efficient athletic programs within Nashville public schools that help provide every student with the foundation of character to succeed in life, that strengthen the connections between the schools and the entire community, and that support the development of healthy and well-rounded teens and young adults in Nashville.