The Sports Illustrated website has an interesting (and worrying) article about the economic troubles being faced by high school athletics programs all across the country. While they're obviously being affected by general economic malaise, high gas prices are also affecting adolescent all-stars:

"Florida's troubles aren't difficult to trace. High gas prices have forced would-be tourists to stay home. Without those tourists, the state doesn't collect as much sales-tax revenue (Florida has no state income tax). With less revenue, the state has less available to give to school districts. Despite that, districts still must adhere to a state constitution amendment, passed by voters in 2003, that limits class size. With most of the money earmarked for the classroom, districts have struggled to pay for helmets, for volleyball nets or for gas to fill buses for away game trips."

This is a frightening trend considering most school districts in states without income taxes get the large majority of their funding from sales tax. As the economy falters and consumers spend less, the school systems lose much of their funding. Which in the end creates a vicious cycle that might continue itself in perpetuity if students can't receive the kind of quality education that will lead to the creation and availability of well-paying jobs that can revive the economy and schools in turn. See how it's all connected?

Most of the country didn't do much to stop the slow starvation of fine arts programs. But will they really let school districts flip the switch on their Friday Night Lights?

viaSports Illustrated