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Considerations for Adding New Teams to Your Program

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA on May 15, 2017 hst Print

Leaders in education-based athletics should want to offer as many sports and teams as possible in their programs. This should be easy to understand, since the growth and development of young people is the No. 1 objective. Therefore, having as many students participate in athletics and experience the positive benefits should be a corresponding goal, which means having as many teams as possible.

However, it may not be that simple. There are several factors that need to be considered before officially proposing to add a new team.

  • Do you have sufficient student interest to field a team? It would be wise to survey the student body and incoming middle school students to accurately measure the level of interest. It is also important to determine what the long-range prospects will be for young people trying out for the new sport or are there only simply upper-class students who want to be part of the initial team. Will there be sustained
    interest?
  • Is there also a plan to develop middle school and community-based programs to support the new sport? Without an established feeder program, fielding a team may be difficult once the initial wave of interest in the first or second year has been covered. One should also analyze how long it will take to create these support programs and then make a realistic judgment of how successful the effort may be in developing
    feeder programs.
  • Will the addition of a new team throw off the balance required for Title IX compliance? If you are considering adding a boys sport, you obviously will need to add one or two for girls. While parents and the community may not be aware of this responsibility, it needs to be included in the analysis.
  • Do you have the financial resources to add another team? While you want to provide additional opportunities, you also want to be realistic and determine if it is financially feasible. Adding another team may put a strain on an already limited budget and put other sports at a major disadvantage. While fundraising may initially help with additional financial support to add a sport, you want to consider how long these
    supplemental funding efforts can be maintained.
  • Does your school have adequate facilities to field a new team? Even with rotating and creative scheduling of venues, there is a limit of what your facilities can handle. While off-campus, community sites may be a partial solution, this will require transportation and cooperative efforts to maintain and schedule these venues. At the very least, flexibility will be needed. There may be hurdles with game management,
    and there will be additional costs involved with offsite practice sessions and games.
  • Are there enough viable opponents within a reasonable distance to fill a schedule for your new team? Missing too many classes for team travel is not a good option since there is certainly an expectation for student-athletes to excel academically. Excessive travel should be avoided, and this must be a serious consideration before adding a new team.
  • Will you be able to find a qualified coach? Depending upon your geographical location, coaches for some sports may be in extremely short supply, and this is definitely the case for new and emerging sports. While there are several reasons for the lack of coaches for some sports, you do need one to field a team.
  • Do you realize that adding another sport means that you have to invest more time in your already busy schedule? In addition to scheduling games for a new team, you will also have to secure officials and buses. There will be uniforms and equipment to order, you will also have to check and verify the eligibility of a new group of athletes and there will be additional awards to order.

While these factors need to be seriously considered, once a decision is ultimately reached to add a new team you still have more work to do. A step-by-step plan has to be developed that includes a realistic timeline for implementation and a projected cost. All of this planning has to be effectively presented to the administration and school board in order to get approval. Once authorization is granted, it is time to get started to provide more education-based opportunities for young people. But it is vital to consider all factors first and make the best-informed decision.