Tagliabue Concerned About Funding for Youth Sports
By Kristin Byrne
The Green Bay Packers and St. Norbert College are co-hosting a national sports conference through Friday in a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the two entities.
Seminars are being held at the college campus and Lambeau Field, covering topics including economic issues in sports, sports psychology, and college sports and careers.
The keynote speaker at the conference Wednesday was former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who said one of the biggest challenges facing our country when it comes to sports is funding cuts for youth sports.
“Budget cuts to school sports programs in the past several years alone since the financial crisis hit have exceeded two billion dollars in public schools around the country,” Tagliabue said.
During his speech about sports and society, he referenced an alarming report on the topic pointing out the problem is significant.
“American youth sports are in serious decline and that opportunities to play are decreasing and becoming more costly, particularly with the rapid growth of participation fees to play sports so-called ‘pay to play.’”
Tagliabue told a crowd attending his speech on sports and society that budget cuts to school sports programs in our country are a concern that can’t be ignored.
He says resources are simply more available to schools in communities that are well off.
“Probably the biggest challenge has to do with the gap between the have and the have nots,” Tagliabue said.
“The people in our society that are getting short-changed are at the lower end of the economic scale where they depend on public education, and in a lot of areas those programs are being gutted.”
Tagliabue pointed out research that’s been done on the subject listing long-term effects to society when funding for youth sports is slashed:”The associated costs of health care for obesity related illnesses and others, criminal law enforcement costs, and the economic consequences of high school drop out rates.”
He says a solution lies in leadership.
A community that cares, he says is critical.
“It’s not just something the public sector can deal with,” Tagliabue said. “We need to keep putting the pressure on for participation sports in the right ways.”