Sport surrounds us, fascinates us, helps us stay healthy, teaches us many things like teamwork, self-discipline, responsibility, support for others, confidence, leadership, self-respect and setting goals for yourself.

The Olympics is an example of the distance in history where people participated in sports from 776 BC to 393 AD in Olympia, Greece. Wrestling, running, long jump, javelin, discus, chariot racing and boxing were part of these early Olympic Games.

When we participate in a team sport such as football, baseball, basketball and soccer, or a sport that we can play alone and continue to play throughout our lives, such as swimming, golf, running or bowling, we develop the ability to focus and maintain focus. Participating in sports and fitness activities helps us sleep better, relieves stress and anxiety, and improves our overall physical and mental health.

But access to sport is not equal for everyone. Students in the Pottstown School District do not have the same opportunities as children in surrounding school districts, both in school or as a child going through nurturing organizations. Schools do not offer as many sports options as those in wealthier school districts.

Many Pottstown High School students, who would be great assets to various sports, work after school to help with family finances, taking away all opportunities to participate in sports. Due to many circumstances like this, some of the Pottstown teams are sparsely staffed with students. It has been well over 10 years since a Pottstown School District team has won a championship of any kind. It’s certainly not for lack of athletic talent, but it’s like a spider’s web with many tentacles leading to many other unresolved issues. Pottstown schools have a long history of many championships, but not today.

Schools in Pottstown are extremely underfunded, which creates many challenges in all areas, including sports. The sports budget for the 2012-2013 school year in Pottstown SD was $827,012 out of an overall budget of $51,334,194, making the sports budget only 1.6% of the total budget. Eight years later, in the 2020-2021 school year, the sports budget was $915,966, an increase of only $88,954 from 2012 and an overall budget of $65,413,614. , which actually reduced the sports budget to 1.4% of the overall budget.

Funding for equipment, uniforms, transportation, grounds maintenance, and coaches’ salaries are just a few of the items that come out of the sports budget. An example of the lack of fairness according to this issue is that well-funded school districts buy new uniforms for their teams on a yearly basis; Pottstown students wear old uniforms purchased many years ago and worn by many other students.

Most districts spend between 3 and 5 percent of their overall budget on sports; Pottstown SD is well below average. If it comes to choosing between a leaky roof or a flooded basement, these elements will always take priority over the investment in the sports budget.

Pottstown teachers are the lowest paid in Montgomery County, so this trend continues in coaching salaries. Some teams have volunteers to help or mentor. It took the Pottstown School District more than three years to raise the $300,000 needed to replace the lights on the football field, and most of the money was raised from a large grant through from state senator Robert Mensch, bake sales, t-shirt sales, private sales. donations, etc. The “Friday Night Lights” disappeared for three years in Pottstown. We’re not talking $3 million, we’re talking $300,000 in the second richest county in the state. In the surrounding neighborhoods, the replacement of these lights would have been taken care of immediately.

Accompanying this article are three charts: one for boys’ varsity sports, one for girls’ varsity sports, and one for unified sports for students with disabilities, bringing together teams offered at seven area high schools. This information was gathered from websites and discussions with athletic directors and school district administrative assistants. Again, underfunding affects students in many ways that hinder their ability to use all of their talents to the fullest.

Dr. Myra Forrest is the former superintendent of the Owen J. Roberts School District and former executive director of the Foundation for Pottstown Education. She is an education advocate for the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.