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See How Much Your High School Spends on Boys' and Girls' Sports 

By Katie Honan | October 17, 2016 7:25am
 The city's Public School Athletic League is the oldest and largest sports league in the country.
The city's Public School Athletic League is the oldest and largest sports league in the country.
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DNAinfo/Damion Reid

NEW YORK CITY — The Public School Athletic League, the country's largest and oldest sports league, shares roughly $27 million a year to support more than 45,000 student athletes across hundreds of schools in New York City.

Of that, approximately $2 million more was spent on boys' athletics programs than on girls'  during the 2014-2015 school year, according to data released to DNAinfo New York under a Freedom of Information Law request.

That year, nearly $14.5 million was spent on boys' athletics, and $12 million was spent for girls. Co-ed sports, including cricket and golf, received less than $1 million in funding.

According to the Department of Education, PSAL spending is determined by "the number of hours allotted per team plus the estimated costs of the following: student insurance, officials, assignors, school supplies allocation and transportation."

Predictably, the city's largest schools have the biggest budget for athletics, according to the data, which is broken down by school, sport and gender.

The top five schools for sports spending are Tottenville High School on Staten Island, Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant in Manhattan, James Madison in Brooklyn and the Bronx High School of Science, data show.

All of those schools have more than 3,000 students, with Brooklyn Tech's enrollment at more than 5,400.

NYC schools were ordered to provide more funding for girls' sports by the state Education Department last year after officials found they were violating the federal Title IX equal opportunity law that, among other things, prohibits discrimination in educational opportunities based on gender.

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In addition, some sports got significantly more cash than others — with football programs representing the top-funded sport. More than 50 schools got $28,627.87 apiece for their football programs last year.

The least-funded sports, according to the data, were varsity tennis and wrestling, which got between from $8,000 and just $625, depending on the school.

Officials explained that the league divvies up the budget using an elaborate formula that takes into consideration the sports played at each school and the structure of each school. 

While the original PSAL formula was built around large high schools, officials had to restructure it as most of the massive high schools have been cut up into smaller ones, which can sometimes share the same buildings. 

"We've been working very hard over the last several years to deal with what was a sea change of the high school structure," Eric Goldstein, a chief executive officer who oversees PSAL, said. "We had to play a game of catch up. This has been a tremendous challenge."

The data is also broken down by campus — which includes multiple schools. The Beach Channel High School Campus in Rockaway Park, for example, includes the Channel View School for Research, Rockaway Collegiate and the Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability.

The funding also includes the Small Schools Athletic League, which was formed to provide more sports to smaller schools and has recently expanded.

The SSAL plans to add nearly 500 new teams through 2019, which will then create "full parity between male and female athletic participation," according to the DOE.

Even with changes, the league has fielded criticism from students and faculty at city schools who say there isn't equal access.

David Garcia-Rosen, a Bronx teacher and founder of NYC Let 'Em Play, said the structure of PSAL doesn't lend itself to participation from smaller schools, which tend to be schools with a larger population of students of color. 

And while the league says it's still adjusting to the new small-school model, Garcia-Rosen said it's ignoring other ways to make PSAL more inclusive.

"The new landscape to public high schools is not new anymore," he said.

His group has suggested a number of changes, like allowing students to try out for sports at other high schools close by in a community-based model.

They've also demanded equal access to all Department of Education-owned fields, centralizing the process of getting permits — which lets smaller high schools without much of a campus still participate.

"That would level the playing field in a big way for black and Latino students," he said.  "Until they make those changes, there’s not going to be equal access to the PSAL."