Sana Latif

Mrs. Hooper

11 AP Language and Composition

10 June 2017

The debate over corporations sponsoring high school sports has intensified as of late.

Corporate logos are no stranger to high school athletes and students who now live in an

increasingly consumer-oriented society. Corporate funding of school sports gives schools excess

funds they may not be receiving from the state’s Department of Education which allows them to

invest in other programs as well. It is also crucial to the survival or certain private and charter

schools who develop a dependency on such loans. However, corporate sponsoring of school

sports has also lead to an undue rise in consumerism amongst high schoolers, a curriculum

conflicted with corporate influence, and an undermining of other school foundations not found in

its sports sector.

In recent years, many schools in Michigan have had large cuts in their funding. With less

funds, schools are unable to operate efficiently, and many schools were forced to shut down as a

result. It’s the fear of shutting down which makes many high school administrations turn to

corporations for funding. Many corporations are willing to support sports programs, and the

funds a school obtains allows it to invest in other school activities. Stronger sport programs may

also lead to a sport-oriented school, which can improve the general health of the student

populace. However, corporate sponsorship of school sports has created a consumer atmosphere

that isn’t optimal for growing teenagers. Several of these sponsors promote items widely
considered to be unhealthy, such as soda, chips, and processed school meals. In exchange for

funds, it’s likely that a corporation would ask for something in turn, such as an advertisement or

a stock of their product placed in the school’s lunch line or vending machine. For example, at my

school there’s an abundance of soda products, although in Health class we were taught to refrain

from drinking it in excess. As the school promotes the “health” of its students, it continues to

owe an informal debt to its sponsor. In a way, it causes the school to enforce a conflicting

curriculum, one side that promotes the wellbeing of its students and the other crawling with

corporate interests. For example, at a sports game the athletes may have been told by their coach

to drink water to stay hydrated. However, several of these athletes drink water from a Gatorade

bottle. It gives the illusion to spectators that Gatorade is indeed essential for an athlete. The

school, in essence, counters it’s efforts to improve each student’s lifestyle by placing consumer

obstacles in their students’ daily lives.

It must be understood that a certain degree of corporate sponsorship in high school sports

is nevertheless a good thing for certain schools. Charter and private schools in specific benefit

from it. Cash strapped schools in poverty stricken areas also find a path to obtain better funs.

Corporate sponsorship in high school sports can act as the backbone for several of these schools.

Therefore, it shouldn’t become a practice that is completely abolished. They do bring in funds

for struggling schools. Simultaneously though, these schools are allocating most of these funds

for sport-specific activities, as opposed to the other programs, clubs, and associations they may

host. For example, if a school received a broad grant for its sports program, the money would

filter in for sports and improve the quality of sports equipment, the gymnasium, and player

performance. Religious associations, clubs, and the music and arts departments would receive far
less attention as the sports department of the school becomes more appealing and better off in

monetary terms. Lack of funding for these activities may lessen their membership and

attendance, cause them to downsize, or lead to the abolishment of some of these activities as a

whole. By opening up to corporate sponsorship solely aimed at it’s sports sector, schools give

sports a better name at the expense of the other ongoing activities present on its campus.

Both sides to the argument over corporate sponsorship of high school sports have merit.

On ene end, it’s understood that they do provide necessary funds and keep many schools going.

At the same time though, they make teenagers prey to an excessively consumer lifestyle, exert an

influence that contradicts the “healthy lifestyle” morales of the school, and undermine other

activities occurring at the school that find no relations to sports or the respective sponsor. The

legitimacy of both statements makes the argument revolve around the concept of allowing this

advertising to occur on the basis of commercial speech, however it calls for the imposing of

regulation or limitations on such sponsorship. The fact of the matter is that corporate sponsorship

of school sports has had undue consequences that must be addressed, likely by limiting the extent

to which it occurs.