We've experienced a number of failed school levies in central Ohio recently, resulting in school systems being forced to make changes - including critical decisions involving interscholastic sports.

We've experienced a number of failed school levies in central Ohio recently, resulting in school systems being forced to make changes - including critical decisions involving interscholastic sports.

In best-case scenarios, school districts will still be able to offer sports in the future, but the costs will need to be subsidized by families. In other situations, school districts may be forced to cut interscholastic sports from the curriculum entirely. Obviously, no one wants any of these changes to occur, but this is reality for some communities in these economic times.

When school levies fail it's normal for districts to re-examine budgets and trim personnel, expenses and sometimes even entire programs. Sadly, interscholastic sports are now routinely included in these discussions, and if cuts are made to sports programs, the result is kids missing out on these growth opportunities.

While there are no simple answers to what to do in the aftermath of failed school levies, it's important to stay positive, optimistic and energetic when it comes to keeping interscholastic sports in the school curriculum. Aside from the great experience kids have playing sports, school sports teams can have a positive impact on the overall culture of a school and the community in so many ways.

Here are a few things to do to be sure your kids have opportunities to continue playing team sports:

First, be sure to get a clear and objective picture of what is going on in your community and remember, nobody (including school leaders) wants to see kids lose out on sports opportunities. Try to learn as much as you can about what your school is currently doing, as well as the measures the school or district has taken in the past, so you can appreciate their efforts during these times. Athletic activities can be very expensive to operate, so it's important to understand the tasks with which school leaders are faced when levies fail and money is tight. Try to stay as positive as you can and look for ways to get others in the community to feel this way, too. Rather than pointing fingers and wasting time getting angry toward the individuals faced with the difficult decision to cut activities, see if there are ways you can help. Will the issue be on the ballot again? If so, what can you do to help others in your community better understand how vitally important interscholastic athletics are to youth development? Perhaps most importantly, how can you get people to go out and vote if your community is given another opportunity to re-establish interscholastic sports? Try to attend school or town meetings and offer your positive, constructive, solution-focused thoughts. If no meetings are scheduled, think about what you can do to get people together to talk about the issues. Again, keep your meetings forward-thinking; don't allow them to become gripe sessions about the last failed vote. Consider all your options. If your school district is forced to cut athletics from the curriculum, you will need to sit down as a family and process how important sports participation is, what the future looks like in your current school district, and what options are available if interscholastic athletics are no longer available at your current school in the future. Obviously these are not easy conversations, but it's vital to examine the importance of sports participation in your child's life.
Every child should have an opportunity to play for his or her school's team, but creating these opportunities is difficult during times of recession. Still, we need to work together to find ways to keep interscholastic sports a part of the overall school experience.