It’s no secret that the number of boy’s high school hockey programs has been steadily declining in Connecticut . During the 2010-2011 season, there were 60 boy’s teams in Connecticut – down from 65 overall in 2005-2006. As of last month, that number sits at 59 going into next season after it was announced that Enfield and Fermi will be going the co-op route, effectively ending a 35-year in-town rivalry between the schools.
Adding to the mix, is the rise in “pay-to-play” programs. In response to the current economic situation and budget shortfalls occurring in education, many school systems in Connecticut are now turning toward pay-to-play arrangements as a means of bridging the gap in athletics. Here, students/families are required to pay a fee in order to participate in a sport affiliated with the high school – similar to youth sports, but without the guarantee of “playing time” that many youth organizations have. For some households these proposed fees might not be much of a deterrent. However, for others, they can represent the “final straw” that prevents a student athlete from participating in sports at all.
This can be especially true for hockey, where equipment costs alone can exceed $1000 for the average high-school aged forward/defenseman. (If we’re talking goalies here, add another $2000). As hockey is quickly emerging as one of the most expensive pay-to-play high school sports in the state, will the addition of that few hundred dollars more every year tip the scales in the wrong direction for some household budgets? Let us know what you think.
Between the declining enrollment and the rising number of pay-to-play high school programs, the future for high school hockey in Connecticut looks murky. Let us know what you think. Log on and discuss it in our forums: