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Pay To Play A Strike Out In Mount Pleasant

Unlike some nearby states, forcing student athletes to pay in order to participate in sports is not an option in New York.
Unlike some nearby states, forcing student athletes to pay in order to participate in sports is not an option in New York. Photo Credit: Robert Michelin

THORNWOOD, N.Y. - During annual budget discussions, Mount Pleasant Schools Superintendent Susan Guiney said the pay to play model for athletics is frequently brought up by parents and community members.

However, the New York State Education Department does not allow public school districts to implement a pay to play district policy, which Guiney said is mostly because of the discrimination it could put on certain students.

"We have to offer opportunities for all of our students to participate in athletics," Guiney said. "Pay to play could indeed have an impact that could keep certain students from participating."

The pay to play concept could be a way for local school districts to offset the costs in their athletic department by requiring all student athletes to pay fees to participate in sports at school. Nearby states such as New Jersey and Connecticut allow school districts to put such a policy in place, but New York has resisted doing so.

Assembly member Amy Paulin, who represents Westchester County in the 88th District, has strongly opposed the policy because she says it could put certain students at a disadvantage.

"We have a lot of economically disadvantaged children in our state and in this area," Paulin said. "Pay to play would put a barrier between the rich and poor."

School districts can charge students to play certain sports because of the high costs associated with them, as long as it is approved by the school board. Paulin said that at Scarsdale High School, which is within her district, a fee is required to join the school's ski team. However, Paulin said putting the pay to play policy into law as an option for all sports would take away from the benefits offered by public school athletics.

Some local school districts have done away with modified sports teams if the town or village's recreation department offers the sport for a fee. Guiney said there is a difference between the two teams.

"Recreational teams offer children the chance to play a sport for fun," Guiney said. "We offer students the opportunity to participate as an instructional tool, for students to learn."

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