A few generations ago, the average family was having five or more children, while now the national average is down to fewer than three children per household.Used to be the creation of consolidated school districts, such as, to pick a few Wisconsin towns, Birnamwood - Wittenberg, Iola - Scandinavia, or Gale - Ettrick. But now, the government and parochial schools are combining to field teams, such as Two Rivers (a government school) plus Manitowoc Lutheran plus Manitowoc Roncalli. Well, Cardinal Roncalli became Pope John XXIII, and combining forces with the Lutherans is in the spirit of his Vatican Conference.
This means fewer butts in seats in classrooms, locker rooms and band rooms than even a generation ago.
Countless coaches have talked about the drop in enrollment having a direct result on the ability to attract players.
Another factor to consider is of that select pool of potential athletes, more teenagers are choosing to work jobs after school to help pay for various things such as college.
The Reedsville girls' cross country team lost two such runners, Brianna and Alyssa Laabs, from last year’s team to this decision.
[Reedsville] coach Shawn Eckstein, while disappointed, understood their decision to not return for their senior and sophomore seasons, respectively.
The cost of education has risen sharply in the past few years, along with just about everything else, leading to more teenagers in the workforce earlier then ever — and off school sports teams.
Playing a prep sport can cost significant monetary and time commitments students and parents don’t have the luxury to afford, unlike previous generations.
Also, in more households, both parents are working and schedules might not allow shuttling children to sporting events and practices after school.
The decline in student enrollment affects government funding, which sees after-school busing programs that helped athletes, especially in rural districts, find themselves on the budgetary chopping block.
While the symptoms of the problem are multifaceted, the outcome is very real.
The future of prep sports could be in jeopardy, at least how they’re run today.
But outmigration from rural areas has been the story for years. Perhaps the pride of place high school sports enjoyed in the Beach Boys era was another manifestation of the victory dividend resource curse. And both parents working is a law of conservation in economics at work.