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Security costs squash school spirit at Philly high school games

Photo: Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

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For many student-athletes, high school sporting events provide the opportunity to build community, foster school spirit and develop personal pride as they play in front of their friends and families.

But across the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District, many schools have been faced with the prospect of turning away spectators from sports events because they can’t afford to pay for the security.

No security, no spectators

Gathered on the rustic wooden bleachers in the 1930s-era gym at Murrell Dobbins High School, about two dozen fans cheer as players from Dobbins and arch-rival Mastery Simon Gratz come back onto the court. Attendance-wise, it’s not at all a bad showing for a varsity basketball game on a January afternoon when wind chills were in the negative digits.

But even as temperatures climb out of the "polar vortex" range, there’s no guarantee that Philadelphia Public League fans will actually be able to continue attending games.

"Due to the financial constraints of the School District, they say they don’t have the money in the budget for security," said Dobbins coach William Johnson. "So we have to find ways to pay for [it]."

And if they don’t, like all schools across the District, officials say they can’t allow spectators to attend games.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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