As a parent of two former Cony High School athletes, I feel obligated to respond to the most recent discussion in Augusta to implement a pay-to-play policy.

We all have seen our youth face the challenges of increased weight gain and an overall lack of physical fitness. We have witnessed physical fitness classes lose in the fiscal debates. Pay-to-play will not toss aside sports, just for those families who can’t afford to pay or those students who wish to try a sport for the first time and may hesitate because of a fee.

It takes courage for a teenager to step forward and try something new; we don’t need to charge a teenager for having courage.

High school sports include a wide variety of opportunity. Both of my sons ran cross-country and track. I have witnessed these sports invite all students to participate, to include some with significant disabilities, weight challenges or those who simply wish to be part of a team.

For most, there are no aspirations of a college scholarship or a professional career; just a chance to belong, to experience teamwork, make a friend outside of the classroom, move away from a video game, TV or the Internet, and improve their health.

It provides a basic human connection. Along with improved academic performance, I have witnessed the mental, physical and spiritual health of students benefit from sports participation. Let’s continue to be a community of opportunity.

I understand times are tough and so are the decisions concerning our school budget. I just hope we don’t shut off opportunities for our kids. Let’s not make choices for our kids limited to those can afford it.

Eric Lind

Augusta