AVON, Ind. (WISH) — The pandemic is hitting the bottom line of high school athletic departments hard. Many places, including Mooresville High School, are out tens of thousands of dollars.
The cumulative effect can be quite powerful: fewer fans, fewer tickets, fewer concessions all adding up.
The Mooresville boys team tipped off in a basketball tournament that’s synonymous with the state. It’s finally back and, hopefully this time, it will make it all the way to the end.
It’s been a year unlike any other for parents, including Rick Foster.
“It’s been awful,” Foster said.
He has a daughter who is a sophomore on the varsity basketball team at Mooresville and a son who is a freshman athlete.
Foster wants to go to every game.
“Even if I’m not involved,” he said.
But it’s not easy. Different gyms have meant different rules all season long, some not even allowing parents inside to watch.
For example, at this sectional in Avon where Mooresville played Brownsburg, the gym was limited to 20% capacity or 830 people maximum, all socially distanced.
“I know a lot of the people who come to Mooresville games all the time, long-time people, you don’t see them,” Foster said. “I don’t know if they’re scared of COVID or they’re leery of trying to find tickets.”
It’s a sentiment felt by those in charge of the games, too, including Mooresville athletics director Mike Mossbrucker.
“It’s been difficult,” he said.
Mossbrucker said his budget is down about $60,000 so far this year, a roughly 35% drop.
While the school district pays for facilities and the coach’s stipend, the athletic department is responsible for just about everything else, including uniforms, equipment and officials. It’s not easy when a single football helmet costs more than $300.
“We’re just going to have to be more careful about some of our purchases along the way. We’re going to have to get more creative,” Mossbrucker said.
He’s holding off on some purchases until the spring season is over. But it may take longer until he has more confidence.
“We’ll know more next year how big of a deal it is,” Mossbrucker said.
Back in the stands, Foster is confident his kids will get through just fine, even if it means an extra year or two before their team can get new uniforms. He said this whole thing has been a great lesson in adversity.
“Kids are resilient. They’ll bounce back,” Foster said. “They’ll come out of it.”
For Mooresville, as well as most other schools, the loss in revenue has really cut into their accumulated reserves more than making them bankrupt. Mossbrucker said one big help in all this has been the many loyal businesses that have continued through sponsorships even through this difficult time.