On any given day, as the bell rings and students flood the hallways of Brooklyn Tech, one can see student-athletes proudly representing their teams. Students wear custom team apparel with their names emblazoned across the front while lugging equipment bags alongside their book bags. Following right behind them, however, are the rumors of how sports teams monopolize much of the school’s money. One common myth is that the school does not have air conditioning because sports teams occupy the school’s funds. For the sake of the hardworking student-athletes and club members, it’s necessary to dispel misconceptions around how sports teams and clubs, are funded at Brooklyn Tech.
There are about 177clubs and 43 teams at Tech, and a large portion of the school’s funding is managed by the Student Government Organization (SGO). In a typical year, the SGO will decide how to divide a pool of $60,000-$70,000 between these organizations. These funds are classified in two different ways; There is “student activity money” (approximately $7 per student for all students in the school) as well as the money that the SGO raises during the year. The small $25 sticker that students buy in the SGO store actually supports all the clubs and teams at Tech.
During good years, the pool can be as large as $80,000-$90,000. When asked about how funding decisions are made, Senior Class President Jenny Mei responded, “The Committee for Money Management and Allocations decides how much a club/team receives according to the intentions of how that club/team is going to use the money, and how much they requested last year compared to this year. They bring this to the SGO and we either approve or change the amount after discussing it. But I cannot discuss how much each club or team makes or whether one gets more or less [funding].”
As generous and crucial as SGO funds are, for many teams they are just one piece of the complete funding puzzle. Some sports can be very expensive. For example, sports that require players to wear helmets must have those helmets be NOCSAE approved (e.g., football; lacrosse; etc.). NOCSAE is a government testing service that each helmet has to pass through every year for players’ safety. This service is mandated by the Department of Education and comes at a price. Other factors, such as equipment, and transportation for tournaments require a fair deal of funding. So where else does the money come from?
SGO funds may not be sufficient to cover a sports team’s expenses. Student-athletes often work very hard to make up for this funding deficiency. Athletes often fundraise money by selling candy or participating in fundraising drives. In extreme circumstances, players even need to buy their own equipment; the average Tech Football player may spend close to $750 each season. Luckily, Tech alumni often come to the rescue, by providing generous donations or volunteering.
Aside from the baseline $7 funds per student, these are the means through which athletes support their teams. In addition to tackling these difficult circumstances, student-athletes all have to balance their schoolwork with practices, physical and mental exhaustion, and games. This being said, athletes still treasure the opportunity to represent Tech in the PSAL.
When asked about whether athletic team budgets impact flexibility that the school has in spending money on basic infrastructure like air conditioners, former Athletic Director, Jim DiBenedetto, answered, “No. That’s capital budget money that is handled by the custodians. It’s nothing that the school controls, and even if they were related, the thousands of dollars it takes to run the football team doesn’t compare to the millions it takes to install air conditioners.” Finally, the air conditioner myth can be put to rest. But more importantly, before jumping to conclusions about how sports teams are funded, everyone inside of Brooklyn Tech should be aware of the hard work that athletes provide for their teams off of the field.