Inside sports funding at JR

Jackson-Reed is home to 40 sports; some teams, some club teams. Some are recognized by DCIAA, the DC public schools youth sports league that provides funding for the sports they recognize, including football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and 16 other team sports played at Jackson-Reed. DCIAA funding covers league transportation, officials, and service equipment for those sports. Money from basketball and football admissions, often between 10 and 20 thousand dollars per year, also contributes to their budget. The club teams, started due to student demand, do not receive any funding from DCIAA, or Jackson-Reed. “Instead of us shutting down sports, our students have expressed keeping those programs in place, so they have to fundraise and fund on their own to keep them sustained.” Athletic Director Nadira Ricks said when interviewed. Due to their lack of funding, club sports such as ultimate frisbee, field hockey, lacrosse, crew, softball, and many others require their players to pay dues and fundraise to cover the costs of the sport. Several Jackson-Reed coaches and students gave their thoughts. 

Boys ultimate frisbee Coach Dave Ohls revealed that team dues are between 200 and 700 dollars, in addition to uniform costs and transportation to and from tournaments. Although he and other club team coaches try their best to keep the sport accessible to students unable to come up with this money, financial aid puts stress on already tight budgets for club sports and eventually limits athletic opportunities for students and teams, especially in more expensive sports like crew. 

“It would definitely be easier if Jackson-Reed funded us because we would be able to participate in more events and have better equipment.” Varsity crew athlete Evan Weinstein said. “In my opinion, I understand that while football and basketball are major sports, it is important to designate a certain amount of funding to other sports and spread the wealth. Schools should be supportive of all their clubs/sports, not just the well known ones.” He added that there are required monetary contributions, dues totaling over 500 dollars per season for each rower with additional costs for each event. 

Field hockey has a very similar situation to crew. The players are expected to pay dues to the extent they can, usually between 190 and 375 dollars. These dues provide funding for assistant coaches, equipment, reserves to cover financial aid and things needed when fundraising does not cover all expenses. The team has to fundraise for things such as clothing equipment, sticks, transportation, and assistant coaches through team dinners and clothing sales. “We’d like more respect and autonomy which that kind of backing provides. Dedicated practice space would be key, too – we are always practicing on hills, ledges and corners.” Captain Avery McDonald said when asked whether it would be easier to be funded by Jackson-Reed or DCIAA. 

By requiring students interested in club sports to pay out of pocket for participation, access to these sports is diminished. Being a student athlete is beneficial; to be eligible for any sport at Jackson-Reed, one needs a minimum GPA of 2.5, meaning student athletes are strongly encouraged to keep their grades up. Being a student athlete also opens up chances beyond high school, meaning that lack of access to club sports is detrimental on more than just a surface level. 

Jackson-Reed used to have a built-in funding mechanism for these club teams. “There was a time where we were renting out the facilities, and when the office of general council got involved and everything, they dismantled it. So that wiped away a lot of funds that the athletic department was helping the club sports at the time.” Ricks said. The Washington City Paper mentioned that Jackson-Reed was earning an average of 185,000 dollars from facility rentals. The money from the facility rentals supported all teams at Jackson-Reed, club sports included. Since then, the only remaining sports funding is from DCIAA and therefore goes to their sports instead of all sports, meaning club teams are left to find their own funds, practice spaces, and resources.