Higher gas prices mean more car washes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It was going to happen sooner or later.

Since the price of gas has gone sky high it has put everyone in a financial crunch.

Some people have curtailed day car trips since gas is so high.

And now the Butler County Board of Education is having to pass along its growing expenses when it comes to the price of gas to those who use school buses for field trips or sporting events.

The cost of the use of a school bus for field trips or sporting events cost 50 cents a mile. Now that cost has more than doubled after the board approved a rate hike where it will cost $1.11 per mile.

So when a basketball, softball or football team makes the 250-plus mile trip to Eufaula the cost of that trip more than doubles. A trip to Eufaula, which is a team within Greenville's region in football, no longer will cost the athletic department about $125. It will now cost just shy of $300.

That seems pretty extreme, but this hike has been something that the board had been trying to prevent for quite some time, according to Butler County Superintendent Mike Looney.

&#8220We are just coming into alignment with state regulations,” he said. &#8220I don't think this will have a drastic impact this year to jeopardize what events our students will attend for the remainder of the school year.”

Looney said the rate hike, which will fluctuate as the gas prices rise and fall, isn't targeted at any specific aspect of extracurricular activity either.

But when it comes to sports, there typically is only one money-maker in high school athletics and that's football.

Typically the other sports like golf, tennis and even basketball rely on football's gate receipts to buy uniforms, equipment or anything else to participate in Alabama High School Athletic Association sanctioned events. That money also covers the cost of gas.

So how do athletic departments make up for the higher expense?

&#8220It may mean that gate receipts may have to increase,” Looney said. &#8220It may make us think strategically who we play.”

But that's not so easy when you are a school like Georgiana, whose new region will now stretch from Bayside Academy (Daphne) to Keith (Dallas County). Or how about Greenville, whose region now stretches from Valley to Rehobeth, which is south of Dothan.

Greenville's gas expense is about to double to more than $700 for just five games.

&#8220None of the principals have voiced a tremendous amount of concern,” Looney said.

At least not face to face.

But the hike will certainly put a financial squeeze on those non-revenue generating sports like golf, tennis and even baseball.

&#8220I will work diligently so that all existing (athletic) programs will be viable,” Looney added.

Maybe so, but it's hard enough to pinch pennies when there aren't that many pennies to pinch.

So don't be surprised to see the county teams do a few more fundraisers than before.

In fact some coaches have already hit me up to get my car washed. With the price of gas soaring, I'll probably have the cleanest car in the county.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.