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Athletic programs losing money due to suspension

High school athletic programs across the country are dealing with the fallout of cancelled or suspended seasons.

A major effect of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the shutdown of spring sports.

This in turn hinders teams’ ability to compete for titles, but also affects teams financially.

High school programs rely on a variety of methods to fund their seasons and that ability to make ends meet will be severely affected by the Coronavirus.

Slade Jones, the Head Coach of the Poplarville Hornets baseball program, said the uncertainty surrounding the virus carries over to athletic programs as they try to find ways to make up the financial losses.

“We’re in a time where not a lot of people have experience with. It’s going to affect financials in the short term and long term. We’ll be behind,” Jones said.

Pearl River Central’s Head Coach of the baseball program Neil Walther said summer games could help programs recoup some of their losses, but breaking even financially would still be a long shot.

However, if the decision is made to not host competitive games over the summer, then the financial fallout will continue to adversely affect programs.

PRC’s baseball program uses sponsorship signs as another source of revenue.

Businesses can buy space and show off their brand at home fields, which is then seen by everyone who attends local matchups.

There are several other ways PRC funds its program and without competitive games the funds will be depleted.

“You don’t make much if it’s regular summer ball because you’re not getting as much of a crowd, so it’s not much of a money maker. Hopefully you make enough to pay umpires and mostly break even,” Walther said.

Walther said to try and make up for the economic impact he’s trying to schedule more home games next season.

However, with programs across the state in similar situations it’s a hard bargain.

“I’m scrambling for home games, and we’ll do home and away games (too). If another school says ‘We couldn’t do a home and away.’ I’d say ‘We’ll play you at your place if you bring your junior varsity team here.’ Most years we haven’t had to do that stuff,” Walther said.

Picayune’s softball Head Coach and Athletic Director Kristi Mitchell said during such a trying time it’s important everyone comes together. The financial impact of the suspension will be far reaching as athletic programs across the United States struggle to replicate the funding they’d get during a season.

Still this unprecedented situation can bring people together as a community, even if there will be repercussions down the line due to the missed games.

“I just know how fortunate I’ve been in my coaching career that we’ve been taken care of. There’s no doubt that I’ve been blessed to coach the kids we have along with the community support and parent support. This is a special, unique time we live in,” Mitchell said.