Booster clubs long have offered monetary and spiritual support for high school athletic programs, but lately, some grumbling has been heard about these same groups wielding excessive control in determining the direction of the teams.
Coaches and athletic directors complain of the abuse of power by some booster club members who believe, because of the support provided, they should have a say in everything from who gets playing time to who coaches the team.
On the other hand, parents say they merely want accountability on behalf of the school's athletic program and its coaches. They're looking for a way to address concerns without fear of retribution, and for fair and equal treatment of their children.
In these financially difficult times, high school athletics have become increasingly reliant on the support of booster clubs to help make ends meet. And despite some coaches' feelings that they can't live with them, they certainly can't live without them.
Perhaps by more clearly defining their roles and responsibilities, athletic departments and booster clubs could learn to peaceably coexist, working together to provide a positive and productive experience for the athletes. Isn't that what it's all about anyway?
'When used correctly, booster clubs can be effective tools to combine the efforts of the school, parents, students and community."
Q: Can a high school sports program survive without the support of a booster club?
TONY DRAFT, Football Boosters President, Valenica High School
A Lifeline for Programs Needing Cash
The booster club is a vital part of a quality athletic program, acting as a support group to extend the athletic budget. Support is offered in many ways, such as morale building (team parties, recognition/awards, banquets), liaison with other school groups, fund-raising to provide financial assistance with coaching stipends, equipment needs, scouting, coaching clinics, camera/video needs, etc.
Athletic programs are often threatened by financial cutbacks when district budgets are decided. The booster club operates as a nonprofit entity, projecting a budget and raising the necessary funds through the efforts of the school, parents, concessions and community. The booster club then provides the necessary financial assistance to allow the schools to continue to offer quality extracurricular athletic programs. In doing so, it offers students drug-free, alcohol-free alternatives to some of the less favorable options awaiting them.
Over the past few years, our booster clubs have had to raise more and more money just to keep the programs at the same level, while the district continues to cut back funds to the extracurricular programs. One recent cutback, in the Placentia-Yorba Linda School District, requires that all booster clubs provide their own liability insurance. This requirement may cut out many booster clubs, as their budgets may not be capable of handling the existing responsibilities, let alone adding liability insurance costs.
Can our athletic programs survive without booster clubs? Not if we value the quality of our programs; Not if we continue to have monetary cutbacks to our athletic programs, and Not as long as we see the importance of quality extracurricular programs for our youths.
Anyone who has been a part of an active booster club is aware that success depends on a lot of time and hard work. When used correctly, booster clubs can be effective tools to combine the efforts of the school, parents, students and community. On behalf of the Valencia High School Football Boosters, we are proud to be an instrumental part of the success of such a quality football program and have that success add to the pride in our school.