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The headlines read:
•ATHLETIC PROGRAMS DECIMATED BY FINANCIAL WOES
•DISTRICT BUDGET CUTBACKS STUN CITY SPORTS PROGRAMS
•PUBLIC LEAGUE HIT BY CUTS; BUDGET SLASH ANGERS COACHES
With plummeting state revenues, nationwide taxpayer curmudgeonliness and a recession whose recovery looks increasingly like a dead cat bouncing, high school sports programs are being slashed. School administrators, hamstrung by shrinking budgets, find themselves in a no-win situation, forced to choose between laying off teachers and continuing to support nonacademic activities. Many schools have cut back sports. A few have cut sports entirely. No one likes it, but the ones who are paying the price are America's young people.
•In August, the school board in Lorain, Ohio, canceled all extracurricular activities, including sports, at its three high schools after voters rejected a millage levy that would have raised taxes in the average household by 42 cents a day. "We've saved $1.3 million," says schools superintendent Thomas Bollin, "but we never thought we'd have to do it. It's draconian. We shut our doors at 3 p.m." Subsequently, the school board saved some programs by borrowing money from the state.
•In June, the Los Angeles school board, faced with a $240 million budget gap, slashed 20% from its athletic budget, eliminating, among other things, junior varsity football and all scrimmages.
•In March, the school board in affluent Montgomery County, Md., cut out middle-school interscholastic sports and replaced them with intramurals.
•In August, the Chicago Board of Education responded to a budget shortfall of $315.8 million by making systemwide cuts that included chopping the athletic budget for each of its 64 high schools from $6,700 per year to $750. At a few schools, the $750 must cover the cost of more than 20 different sports.
•Because of a budget shortfall, Pasco County, Fla., eliminated 1991 spring football practice and dropped 50 games at the varsity and jayvee level in various sports, including contests in seven tournaments.