New athletics admission policy benefits students

The game starts in three minutes as students crowd the gate trying to get in before kickoff. The entrance is crowded and the National Anthem is playing while the student section sits sparsely filled. This was a reality for many games in previous years, but the problem has been fixed this year.

During the 2022-2023 school year, students at all Perry Township schools can enter home sporting events at Perry Meridian or Southport High School for free with the presentation of a school ID and lanyard.

While a huge financial burden on the township, the hope is to increase student involvement, especially those students who have lived their entire high school careers in COVID’s shadow.

“I think it was a way to get that engagement back from students,” Emily Steinmetz Perry Meridian Athletic Director said, “to get students who had kind of fallen away from being included.”

And the policy seems to be working, student sections are fuller and louder, school spirit is up and the overall opinion of sports around the school has increased.

Even away game attendance has increased, especially at places like the Perry vs Southport girls’ volleyball match where Perry’s attendance rivaled Southport’s on their court.

“We had over 100 kids,” Steinmetz said. “While that would have happened [without the new admission policy] it would not have happened at that level.”

And, while questions have arisen over whether or not the township will lose money because of this policy, certain aspects have offset what those losses might be.

“You lose your gate money,” Steinmetz said, “those kids are going to come in and spend money at the concession stand.”

This money will also be funneled back into the school in some way as the Falcon Boosters who run the stands give all funds back to the athletic, music, and theatre programs.

However, even if the township does take a big hit on money this year due to the new policy, that really isn’t the main concern for the people placing the policy into effect.

“If kids are coming to the game to watch the game, to support their classmates,” Steinmetz said, “I think that is the best thing we can do.”

And, beyond the effect the policy has on sports attendance is the impact it will hopefully have on participation in athletics at Perry.

“I mean you hope,” Steinmetz said, “that they want to be part of it. So not just stand and watch but actually play.”

Soon, the entire school will hopefully be able to go to a football, basketball, volleyball, soccer or any other sporting event and find something they want to watch or participate in. 

And, whether they be the students attending games, the students playing, the students benefiting from concessions or the students hoping to play, the new policy shows a significant movement from the township toward placing students over finances.

The student section is full, the teams filled and no one is stuck in line because they need to pay to get in.