In Sunbelt, budgets tight but games go on

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

As in other matters, some Sunbelt states have largely escaped the hard times affecting high-school sports elsewhere.

Two notable examples are Florida and Texas.

Cecelia Jackson, field representative of the Florida High School Activities Association, says enrollments at some public schools in the state are dropping. But other schools are adding to, not cutting back, their sports programs.

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Even in Florida, however, ''budgets are very, very tight, and administrators are trying to do the best they can with what they have,'' she says. One way school officials stretch their sports budgets: regional competitions, where several schools meet at a central location on the same day for a round of baseball, softball, or volleyball games, cross-country races, golf matches, and the like.

In Texas, ''we're somewhat fortunate in that we have not faced some of the financial aspects that other states have,'' says Bonnie Northcutt, assistant athletic director of the Texas University Interscholastic League. ''Our high-school athletic programs are still quite healthy.''

Many Texas public schools also are adding team sports, such as soccer and tennis, to their programs. Schools have made some concessions to the economy, however, such as cutting back on travel and scheduling fewer games, she adds.

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