82nd International Atlantic Economic Conference

October 13 - 16, 2016 | Washington, USA

High school booster clubs and gender equity: A case study

Saturday, October 15, 2016: 2:35 PM
Donna Anderson, Ph.D. , Economics, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, La Crosse, WI
High school funding by U.S. state governments stands below 2008 levels in 35 states due to a collapse in state revenue. In order to make up for lost revenues, many U.S. high school sports programs have dramatically increased their reliance on booster clubs, defined as parent groups or community groups formally associated with the high school that typically hold fundraisers or secures business or corporate sponsorships to assist in the expenses associated with the athletic team(s). However, a conflict can arise between the demand for higher revenues by a high school and guaranteeing gender equity in athletic opportunities. An increased reliance on booster clubs increases the likelihood of fewer opportunities for girls since it is more likely that funding for sports less popular in the community from which funds are raised will suffer and create a gender equity issue. Little research has examined how substituting school district monies with booster club funds impacts gender equity because booster club data is traditionally difficult to obtain. This paper provides a case study of one U.S. high school in which the researcher has access to booster club information. The analysis reveals that a booster club model in which each sport has its own booster club as opposed to one all-school all-sport club coupled with a lack of oversight by school district officials creates significant gender inequities in athletic opportunities at the high schools. Policy recommendations that arrive out of comparisons to European sports models for high school age athletes and suggestions for further research are provided.