DOE eyes televising high school sports

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Local youth sports might soon be running, jumping and kicking on television sets across the city – if a new proposal becomes a reality.

The city Department of Education (DOE) is testing the waters to find a company fully dedicated to airing high school sports on cable or network television. The possible deal would grant the rights to film, air and promote Public School Athletic League (PSAL) games, on television and online, in exchange for marketing rights and other privileges.

Donald Douglas, PSAL director, said that sponsorship dollars secured from television would bring new opportunities for the league, schools and students. He also said that any kind of television deal would give schools the opportunity to add new sports, at a time when many are cutting athletic programs.

“This would bring recruiting opportunities, as well as the opportunity to show school spirit,” said Douglas. “It gives our student-athletes a chance to compete before a bigger audience.”

While still in its very early stages, Douglas believes the city’s preliminary proposal would bring in some non-traditional revenue to depleted school coffers and serve as a vehicle to expanding city high school sports.

There are more than 32,000 teens currently competing on almost 2,400 PSAL teams, and that number could grow exponentially if a television deal is reached. New monies would enable some area public schools to finally be able to offer inter-school sports to their students, something that 50 percent of city schools are not able to do because of funding shortages, according to the DOE.

While PSAL football and basketball championship games are already televised by area broadcasters, a dedicated network would tap into new markets – namely parents who are not able to make it to every one of their kids’ games, and alumni who simply want to keep track of their schools.

“I think there is definitely a market out there for high school sports,” said Douglas. “There are cities across the country that televise high school sporting events, and I’m not just talking about basketball and football.”

The PSAL and the DOE are currently waiting to hear back from interested companies, including ESPN, who are working to see if high school sports will fit into their programming.