Editorial: Cut our sports?!

Posted 7/19/19

Over in Warwick the school committee played the sports card recently and, no surprise, it worked to perfection.

As Tiverton, Portsmouth, most districts that have used it know, this most potent and …

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Editorial: Cut our sports?!

Posted

Over in Warwick the school committee played the sports card recently and, no surprise, it worked to perfection.

As Tiverton, Portsmouth, most districts that have used it know, this most potent and dreaded of all budget tactics is for use only as last resort. No mere town council or budget committee can withstand its fearsome power.

In the Warwick case, a beaten city council that had drawn a line in the sand and flat out declared there was not a penny more to spare for schools, suddenly on Monday found a few extra million to “restore sports and some other things.”

That’s how it always plays out.

Never mind that the sports account isn’t all that big, this is the line item that matters.

Shortchanged at budget time, a school committee might declare cuts to AP mathematics, to art, to special education or after school activities or field trips. They could lay off a couple dozen teachers.

Some people would turn out to voice dismay but not in numbers that need be taken seriously.

Suggest an end to high school, even middle school, sports though, and the next meeting will need a much bigger venue — high school auditorium size.

The seats will be packed with parents, many of whom have never before witnessed a school committee meeting. Students will come carrying signs and wearing letter jackets.

TV cameras will there to witness the fury, and police (at time and a half) will try to keep a lid on the outrage.

School committee members will sit there and take it (trying to debate is a bad idea) but they do so knowing that they’ve already won. Best to wring hands and mumble, “We’d restore sports if only the town would give us the money.”

The outcome was certain the moment the word “sports” was uttered. The schools will get more money, sports will survive, and cuts, if any, will come down on something safe (and non-union).

It all makes for good theater even if the ending is predictable.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.