By William Kincaid
The cost-free days of watching fledgling athletes develop their talents in MAC League junior high sporting events may be over.
The MAC League adopted a policy at the end of last month to charge fans of junior high sports next year and also raise the ticket price for high school sports events.
MAC representatives from each of 10 participating schools (New Bremen, Minster, Coldwater, Fort Recovery, New Knoxville, St. Henry, Marion Local, Versailles, Parkway and Delphos-St. John) approved the increase at a May meeting after a sports banquet, MAC Commissioner Tim Buschur said.
Although the MAC approved the ticket-price spike, each school district board must ultimately decide whether to implement the policy within its own athletic program.
Buschur said some MAC representatives suggested the increase because of sky-rocketing costs, especially transportation. One school, which he chose not to name, spent nearly $30,000 last year on busing athletes. He also said recent additions to the league, such as girls golf and girls softball, have to be accounted for as well.
Buschur said league schools have the option to sell tickets for junior high football, volleyball and basketball. The suggested price will be $3 for adults and $2 for students.
Also, ticket prices for all MAC boys basketball and football games will increase from $5 to $6 if purchased at the game. Presale tickets, according to Buschur, will remain the same at $4 for students and $5 for adults.
"If they buy them early, they're not paying any more," Buschur told The Daily Standard on Monday afternoon.
However, Buschur declined to say how each school voted, as the decision was not unanimous. Each school, which is represented by the athletic director and an administrator, gets one vote, he said.
Explaining the decision to charge for junior high sporting events, Buschur said."We're about the only league that doesn't charge for junior high," he said about prior years. "We keep hammering the varsity sports ... that eases the pain (to charge for junior high).
New Bremen Interim Superintendent Jim Roeth said the board reluctantly approved the policy change at its regular meeting last Wednesday.
Although Roeth said some were uncomfortable with the increase, including Athletic Director Gary Jones, New Bremen would be losing out financially if it didn't comply with the change.
If New Bremen fans travel to another school within the MAC and have to pay for attendance, why shouldn't New Bremen charge as well, he asked.
Jones told board members he voted no on the policy change. "How can we counteract that even though we didn't vote for it?" he asked.
But Jones said the board must approve the change because "they'll (other schools) be getting it from us, but we won't be getting it from them."
According to the Coldwater Exempted Village School's Web site, "it has become difficult to run a non-business organization in a business world. As inflation continues to grow, an athletic department cannot keep up and must make adjustments every 3-4 years or so. This is an unfortunate situation that none of us likes, but in order to survive in the business world, we must make the adjustments."
Also, Coldwater's Web site reports that three of the four surrounding leagues already have the same boys football and basketball price schedule; and all four surrounding leagues also charge for junior high athletics.
To help large famines pay for admission to sporting events, Buschur said many of the MAC schools will offer a seasonal family pass that will allow attendance -- by both parents and all of their children -- for scheduled events.
New Bremen is one of the schools to offer a family pass. For $70, an entire family can attend any high school or junior high sporting event in the fall. The same package is offered for winter sports for $155. For an additional $5, parents can obtain reserved seating.
"They're getting a good deal," Jones said. "We're trying to give them a break. They have the opportunity to save some money if they have a larger family."
The WBL prices will remain the same this year, according to Celina Superintendent Matt Miller. Miller said last year, adult tickets increased to $6 and students tickets increased to $4.
He added that it's up to each participating WBL school whether to charge for junior high sporting events. He said Celina usually charges $1 for some junior high events.
Schools in the WBL include Bath, Celina, Elida, Defiance, Wapakoneta, Shawnee, Van Wert, St. Marys, Kenton and Ottawa-Glandorf.