The McPherson School Board made two important decisions concerning students’ access to athletics at its meeting Monday.

The McPherson School Board made two important decisions concerning students’ access to athletics at its meeting Monday. First, the school board decided to fully fund the golf and swimming programs. The board voted to eliminate half of the district funding for the teams during the 2009-2010 school year. This was $2,250 for golf and $7,000 for swimming. The cuts took affect during the 2010-2011 year and were anticipated to last for five years. The board agreed to continue the programs if parent groups would fundraise the other half, which they have effectively done so far. Although allowing students to fundraise to support their sports is preferable to cutting programs altogether, it is really not fair to the students or their families. Certain students should not be singled out to shoulder the burden of the cost of their athletics because their athletic skills lie in less spectator popular sports like golf or swimming. The students in these sports get as much benefit from their sports as any student who participates in basketball, football or baseball. The board’s second action took another step toward creating seventh-grade sports at McPherson Middle School. If given final approval by the board at its meeting Dec. 10, the district could add football, volleyball, basketball and cross country for seventh-graders by the 2013-14 school year. The district may not be making this addition under optimum circumstance, as it is feeling pressure to add seventh-grade sports or lose opportunities on its eight-grade schedules. However, adding more opportunities for students to participate in organized sports would be a positive move, and we encourage the board to pass the measure in December. Athletics not only promotes physical fitness, but research has indicated students who participate in sports achieve higher marks in academics. A Florida International University study showed a positive and significant relationship between athletic participation and academic performance. Students in the study who participated in sports were absent fewer days, had higher grade point averages and scored higher on standardized test than those students who did not participate in sports. Although school districts have been strapped financially in recent years by numerous budget cuts, we applaud the district for recognizing the importance of sports in the physical, intellectual and social development of its students. We see athletics as an important component in the district’s commitment to college and career readiness and urge the district to continue its support of all sports for its students.