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The vigorous path of sports budgeting at Garfield.


Behind each and every sporting event is an array of logistics. Each Super Bowl, World Cup, and highschool football game involves a great deal of planning. And with this planning comes debate on hot topics such as uneven wages, overly strict policies, and polarity about the distribution of money. The disproportionate spread of funds appears all too clear when certain teams provide their players with new Nike sweatsuits, but others struggle to come up with the money for tournaments and basic uniform pieces. And within the Seattle school district, there are stark differences – the quality of Garfield’s sporting attire falls short of schools like Ballard and Nathan Hale. There may appear to be preferential treatment and advantages for schools further north – and this may hold true. The world of sports, when it comes to funding, is riddled with technicalities, higher-ups, and bureaucracy.
Carole Lynch is Garfield’s Student Activities Coordinator and Athletic Director— but what does that actually mean? There is an assumption that as the school’s Athletic Director, Lynch has control over and makes decisions on where funds are going. “90% of the decisions people think are made by me are decisions where I am governed by a higher power,” Lynch said. Because of the lack of clarity in what actually happens with funding, students tend to unfairly assume that Carole Lynch is actively trying to make students’ athletic lives harder. “I would never try to do anything that would make a mockery of Garfield High School. It’s very hard being a Black female in this position, enduring racism and sexism more than a white male counterpart would have to.” Lynch said.
Many people may be unaware that the only aspect of student athletics that is paid for by the district is transportation. Beyond that, individual fundraising is the majority of what makes up finances for an individual’s sports. “It’s my job to know a lot of [those technicalities], that’s why every school has an Athletic Director,” Lynch explained. “We don’t buy personal items or garments. People aren’t getting handouts, it’s all systematic.”
One huge can of worms regarding funding technicalities surrounds Fall and Winter swim, formerly known as Boys and Girls Swim. The ASB budget, which is required to be paid into when students sign up for athletics, is largely what covers uniform and equipment costs. “Uniforms are bought by the school on a rotating basis. The coach gives the uniform idea, if it’s in the right season to buy, it passes through ASB and the coach is responsible for buying the uniform,” Lynch explained. This makes sense and seems fair on the surface except for one small detail, swimsuits are considered personal garments. This means that funds for uniforms for both swim teams need to be raised individually.
So what happens when students attempt to traverse the tricky path of attaining funds to ensure affordability? Shay Camplin, a Fall Swim captain, made it her mission to organize Garfield Fall Swim in such a way that would allow future athletes to have full clarity on what they could do to alleviate costs. “I wanted to make sure I set up the team when I [graduate], so that they’ll never have to fight [for funding] again,” Camplin said. With tailgates and fundraisers being hard to navigate, the only other way the team could potentially get funding is through the ASB budget. “Everything else, like, equipment wise, and uniforms comes from the ASB budget,” Camplin explained. The ASB budget comes from sport sign ups, football tickets sales, ASB sticker sales, etc. The system is in place for a reason, but it ends up creating starkly different realities for different athletic programs.
It started earlier this year, when students in Fall Swim were growing increasingly concerned about a perceived lack of financial support. Last year, according to Camplin, there were concerns from admin about how money was being raised after years of being self-sustained (depending on how organized captains were). The team hosting tailgates and such, just to acquire funding. “Okay, there are specific rules around the accounts and supervising, [etc.]… it was just a general concern of ‘You guys, aren’t going to do this legally’,” Camplin said. During the time that an interim coach was employed last year, there was a lack of clarity for the captains which led to little fundraising being accomplished. “And so it kind of felt like a burden when we went to the next year of like, how are we going to do this?” Camplin said. To make sure that as many people as possible could sign up and participate, Camplin and Sofia Ruiz-Murphy wrote and submitted a funding proposal which enabled everyone’s suits to be paid for. But it wasn’t over quite yet. “There [was] a catalog of… football equipment. And so we went through that catalog, and the prices were insane. And seeing that, [we had] the realization that there is funding to back certain sports at our school [and it] really bothered us… and we wanted that money to be able to buy suits because it’s a huge burden for some people,” Camplin explained as the reason she needed to set up a follow-up meeting with Dr. Hart regarding why exactly they weren’t seeing the money come back to them. “The $50 that’s paid into that ASB goes into the ASB budget. And that’s also what they’re pulling from for uniforms and stuff like that, which, to me, just seems like a really flawed system… [because] that’s not even covering a fraction of our suits,” Camplin elaborated. The fact that suits are not covered by the ASB budget along with girl’s swimsuits costing almost double boy’s swimsuits is also an unfair burden to be placed on the swim team.
Distribution of funds is also controlled by Title IX, the law that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in school sports. “This is something that our coach also [talks about], there’s just a rule that you have to allocate the same amount of money to boys and girls.” Camplin said. This may seem like the most fair and equal option, but there is then a conversation to be had around equity vs equality. “Boys’ swimsuits cost $35. And girls’ swimsuits cost $70 [to] $80. So we’re talking more than double here,” Camplin explained. This becomes an issue when both teams are allocated the same amount of funding to provide for their teams, which according to Camplin is near to nothing. Additionally, athletes felt that the funds they did receive went towards things that were essentially unnecessary. “We had received, like, jackets, [but] never needed jackets. We never wanted jackets that were shared between us and the boys swim team. We never wanted that,” Camplin explained.
Camplin also made sure to assert that the blame for this does not fall on Carole Lynch. “She just does an exorbitant amount of work for the school,” Camplin said. And it is true. Carole Lynch explained that the heavy burden faced by the swim team is not something she has control over. “Boys’ swimsuits cost less than girl’s swimsuits. That’s a societal thing, not under [my] control,” Camplin elaborated further, saying, “We didn’t come to blame anyone, we know it’s a public school. We know funding is always going to be an issue. But there is a level of trust that we should put in our public institutions that we all get the same amount of money back.”

As for the future of sports funding, it is uncertain. Seattle Public Schools is facing a steady drop in enrollment which could affect how sports are funded. But if anyone has any questions about that, Carole Lynch asserted that she does have an open door policy and enjoys being an educator for students. But hopefully with more clarity and cohesiveness from the admin as a whole, we can begin to work together to get the most out of our athletics — and our budget.