Usually open letters are written because someone is upset, disgruntled, or irritated. These letters usually carry a snarky, sarcastic tone to them. While things have been observed in a few different leagues that may be upsetting, that is not the message this letter hopes to convey. Instead, it is written to help those in Christian school league leadership positions to keep in mind the everyday problems that their members face.
Dear Christian School Leagues,
There are a few quick things that every Christian school athletic director is concerned with when dealing with athletic leagues. Please consider the brief points to follow as you operate your organizations to serve the Christian school and the Christian school athlete.
Money talks; it’s the bottom line. The love of it may be the root of all evil, but that doesn’t change its necessity in today’s world.
Money is especially scarce in Christian school athletic departments. Most operate from a zero based budget. Operating purely off gate, concessions, sports fees, and fundraisers, most Christian schools are doing well to turn a profit in the athletic department.
Please, Christian school leagues, consider your customer and consider what you provide. Membership dues, athletic fees, and tournament entry fees add up over time. If you price your members out of the market, then pretty soon you’ll have no one to charge.
This certainly isn’t a threat, but remember that you’re more than likely not the only game in town.
In today’s private school climate, there are many different leagues and options out there for small Christian schools. We enjoy the standards, fellowship, and competitions that you provide, but don’t take us for granted.
Also, be aware of who your customer is and why they have chosen to be a part of your league. If a school joins your league make sure you know what will keep them there and what will drive them away.
A wise man once said, “Perception is reality.”
How schools perceive the way your league operates is, in fact, the reality of how your league operates.
The devil is in the details, and if you don’t pay close attention to them than people will notice. Little things like the size of your trophies, the pageantry of your awards ceremonies, and the coverage of your events may seem like non-issues.
Think of it this way: every school wants to grow. They know that having an excellent academic program is the most important factor. However, extracurriculars come in very closely behind that. Many schools are under pressure to step their game up athletically. Parents and alumni can be the driving force behind this push. Therefore, league events that are administered poorly, cheaply, or without any real significance can reflect poorly back on the school’s athletic program.
In the long run do trophy sizes, media guides, warm-up music, and other little things matter? No, they don’t. But they leave an impression in the moment, and that perception is reality.
The size of Christian schools varies considerably. More than likely your league services schools as small as seventy-five students (K-12) to schools with enrollments over five hundred.
Due to this size, you probably have different classifications depending on size of school. Such a structure is necessary and expected. The request is this: please consider the ramifications of league decisions on all of your members regardless of size.
Smaller schools will be more challenging to deal with. They also don’t participate in as many of the programs as larger schools. However, without the smaller schools your league would definitely lose its appeal.
Granted, a league can only be as consistent as its members allow it to be. But changing things from season to season or even from year to year is disenchanting and frustrating for member schools.
Every season is different; but things like playoff qualification requirements, district/region alignment, and all-state requirements should stay fairly consistent from year to year.
That’s not to say that change can never happen, but it’s hard to plan when those that are in charge are making it up as they go.
Invest in the League
Payment wouldn’t be such a hot-button topic if members could see tangible improvements. Failure to invest in league growth and functionality can lead to assumptions/accusations of misuse of money.
Make sure that your league has convenient methods of reporting and viewing scores and standings (don’t just rely on MaxPreps).
Provide services, kick backs, promotions, and scholarships for league members.
Facilitate ways for member schools to connect and grow via continuing education opportunities for coaches and athletic directors.
There are many ways that you can invest in the league and still cover costs of operation. Honestly, just showing that you’re trying will go a long way.
In closing, please don’t take this as an attack. Christian school athletic programs would have no where to compete if it were not for leagues like yours. Additionally, you will never please every school at every time. However, please remember that the way you operate directly affects so many things in the Christian school athletic department.
We’re glad you took the time to read our concerns. We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership in pointing athletes to Christ through sport. God bless your ministry.
Christian school athletic directors