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A game of expenses

We all know our country’s economic crunch affects all segments of society, but high school football teams might not be first on the list of segments we think of.

But difficult economic times, especially the high price of gas, can hamstring prep programs, especially smaller ones. Take Billingsley for example.

For more pictures from Billingsley’s practice, visit our Spotted site

Realignment put the Bears into Class 1A, Region 3, so the team must make trips to Maplesville (about 15 miles), Sunshine (80 miles), Linden (100 miles) and A.L. Johnson (80 miles). Throw in a non-region visit to Parrish (105 miles), and Billingsley will travel approximately 380 miles this year.

Billingsley coach Kevin LeSueur said trips cost $1 per mile for gas last year. As for this year, “I don’t want to know because it might scare me.”

Even if LeSueur pays what he did last years, that’s $380 just for gas. It would take at least two home games (the Bears play five) to pay for the cost of gas for the road games, but gas is far from the only expense.

Players must eat before the games. When a team’s coaches, water boys, statisticians and chaplains are figured in, LeSueur said that can cost more than $400. The Billingsley athletic club helps with food expenses, LeSueur said, but there are even more costs associated with a football team.

A single helmet costs about $180, LeSueur said.

“They’re saying you might as well buy all you want because they’re going up to $225 next year,” he said.

Host teams must pay the officials $300.

“And our officials don’t get paid enough,” LeSueur said. “I think when people travel to other parts of the state, they find out what kind of officials we have here in our backyard.”

Simply turning on the Mims Field lights runs up a $360 power bill. And LeSueur said he spent almost $1,000 on the field during the summer.

“What do you do? Charge more for the people that want to come out and watch you?,” LeSueur said. “It’s going to take everything we’ve got just to break even.”