Sports To The Sidelines?

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It's a plan many hope will turn the fortunes of the Lansing School District. A right-sizing blueprint that will consolidate schools and help to build new facilities. But with just one high school, Lansing sports could be watching from the sidelines.

"The sports piece was never a major part of the discussion," said right-sizing committee chairperson David Hollister.

He says the district is losing 15% of its students each year. Academics and finances had to take top priority over athletics.

"I know the value of the rivalry and the identification. You're a Quaker, or you're a Big Red, or you're a Viking. But that was not our driving force. We'll deal with that down the road."

But having only one sports team instead of three means fewer opportunities for students, particularly in football and basketball. But John Johnson of the Michigan High School Athletic Association sees an upside too.

"There may be new opportunities created," he said. "There may be a better quality of participation opportunity."

Johnson says new teams for sports like hockey, gymnastics, or swimming could be created. And with more competitive teams in football and basketball, the district could see more money as well.

"Being competitive does have a long way to go in determining what happens at the gate."

The committee isn't worried about losing students to play sports elsewhere. As for tradition? Hollister says that may have to sit on the bench to save the district.

"If we can't reverse this downward trend going on in the schools, the vitality of the city is at risk."

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