A version of this article appeared in-print in the February issue of the Smoke Signal.
Over the years, MSJ has had to be self-reliant in funding its sports programs and supporting its athletes. The Smoke Signal sent reporters out to investigate the reason for why this is the case, the different sources of funding, and also interviewed students, coaches, and administrators to find out the effects of the budget cuts on student-athletes at MSJ.
District Level Funding
In order to encourage participation in athletic extracurriculars, the Fremont Education Foundation (FEF) gives all FUSD schools financial aid for students unable to afford certain necessities for athletics, including uniforms, equipment, and competition fees. The Guy Emanuele Sports Fund, which donates a maximum of two hundred dollars per school, was established in 2003 to help schools develop and build their sports programs, while also helping underprivileged students by working to mitigate monetary restrictions. Every year, the FEF organizes the Fremont Run 4 Education to raise money for the Guy Emanuele Sports Fund through corporate and private sponsorships, with major contributors such as the Fremont Bank and Washington Hospital Healthcare System. Though the Guy Emanuele fund does provide for underprivileged students, it is the only financial aid provided to schools in the district of athletics programs. Even with a general fund revenue of 382.3 million dollars, the FUSD Budgeting Department only provides for coach’s salaries and stipends.
State Level Funding
Much of the funding for athletics programs in CA schools comes from the athletes themselves through a system known as pay-to-play. While all schools receive money from school districts for their sports programs, 60% of all CA high schools also raise additional funds through this system. According to a 2019 qualitative study on sports fee policies published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, participation fees cost $150 per student on average, but 30% of those who participate in high school sports may pay $500 or more in the long run. Although low-income families may apply for fee waivers, only 6% of those who apply receive one. Despite the unequal playing field that pay-to-play programs create, no current alternatives have been enacted.
Despite the unequal playing field that pay-to-play programs create, no current alternatives have been enacted.
MSJ Level Funding
When it comes to funding the sports programs at MSJ, much of the fundraising is undertaken by the students themselves. In an effort to raise more money, Athletic Director Mr. Thomsen believes the stipends FUSD would’ve provided for the football program can be repurposed. Thomsen said, “Those 10 to 15 thousand dollars that football would’ve received could’ve been [redistributed] to the current sports here that don’t receive stipends for their coaches.” Snap!Raise is a popular medium utilised by MSJ sports teams used to compile donations from the Fremont community. Teams can share their fundraiser information through their group’s custom-built campaign web page. Most sports cost anywhere between three and six thousand dollars per year, and this can cover anything from tournament fees to equipment. Typically, the funds raised by each team are usually only enough to cover that season, so long-term funding for teams is quite challenging. The $50 that student-athletes donate at the start of their season goes towards maintaining the Athletic Department as well as paying the dues it costs to be a part of NCS and MVALS.
MSJ Level: Tennis
According to Coach Michael Jan, the Girls and Boys Tennis teams receive an average of $3000 to $4000 annually, which goes towards tennis balls, uniforms, snacks for the team, and tennis court maintenance fees. The cost of the competitions is roughly $50 per match. Jan reported that the amount fundraised for tennis is average compared to the other sports programs.
MSJ Level: Wrestling
The wrestling team this year raised $11,000, which was used to help pay for uniforms, team apparel, trophies, end of the year banquet, food, and the MSJ Invitational. The wrestling team tends to raise more money on average than other teams since they are one of the biggest sports at MSJ.
MSJ Level: Track & Field
Depending solely on family donations and SnapRaise, an organization that facilitates and aids in school fundraisers, the MSJ track and field team was able to raise $6000 this year, according to track and field coach Jahdai Bolds. For a given track meet, the program spends between $200 to $600, depending on the number of student athletes registered to compete.
Do you believe that there is enough funding for the sports programs at MSJ? How do you think the school or district can work to resolve this issue? Which program in particular do you think needs more funding?
“I do water polo and swimming but I don’t believe we need more funding. The new pool is huge and great; our swimming facility is ahead of most of the other schools. However, I do believe that track could use more funding. We don’t even have a real track unlike other schools.” — Kasper Lau, 10
“No, I think many sports programs at MSJ are underfunded. As a swimmer myself, I can say that having a pool at Mission has not only attracted more students towards the sport, but also has made my experience better . I can say the same for a lot of my friends in track and cross-country. If we were to have an actual track at MSJ, it would be easier for students to commute, practice on a track, and improve..” — Monica Manmadkar, 11
“I don’t think there is enough funding because a lot of the facilities need to be remodeled, like the gym, as they are not in the best state right now. So, for volleyball and basketball, we are always slipping on the floors. That can be remodeled or rewaxed.” — Starla Murillo, 12
If the sports programs were better funded, do you think they would attract more students? Why or Why not?
“I don’t think that if the programs were better funded they would attract more people. This is an affluent area, and cost is generally not a big impediment to people joining sports. Students also know whether or not they will participate in a sport because of prior college planning, or they already know what sport they are interested in. Additional funding would simply make the experience better, but it wouldn’t attract more people.” —Anika Wadhera, 11
“Increased funding would definitely attract more students. A lot of advanced players don’t join because they believe that the equipment is bad, or that the sport doesn’t get enough funding.” — Serena Tang, 9