Like it or not, high school sports are a huge part of a community's identity. Friday night football games. Homecoming. Rivalries.
Prep sports are as much a part of the typical American town's heritage as the leading industry or founding families.
And like it or not, the state budget is in a world of hurt. The demand for services is growing faster than revenues, and when the Legislature finally balances the books, schools will see less state money.
Cuts will have to be made somewhere -- likely in more than one arena. No one who depends on state funding -- high school athletes included -- should plan on business as usual.
No one is suggesting getting rid of sports. But Pasco, for one, is at least putting sports on the table for discussion. We admire that.
Last week, the school board discussed the idea of realigning league boundaries to make them more compact and possibly charging kids to play sports.
Two days later, principals of the Columbia Basin Big Nine realigned the boundaries for the CBBN to create North and South divisions.
Whether schools will start charging kids to play sports has yet to be decided, and is a topic for another day. But at least it's out there.
In the meantime, school officials should be congratulated for making the reasonable choice of redrawing league boundaries, even when it goes against tradition.
It makes perfect sense, especially for the Tri-City schools, to play other schools in the Tri-Cities and forego the long road trips.
If you live in Moses Lake, you're going to have to travel no matter what team you play, but the trip from Kennewick to Richland is much more manageable than the one from Kennewick to Wenatchee.
Sensible decisions, however, are not always popular ones. They also are not always easy to make.
Friday's article about the new divisions contained two telling quotations from Hanford High principal Ken Gosney.
"There was emotional discussion for everybody involved, but it was a discussion we had to have, and we got through it," he said.
And, "Not everyone was happy, but everyone was professional in the way they handled it," Gosney added
These quotes sum up the frustration and cooperation school officials are dealing with in this tough economy.
Frustration is common to everyone who is tasked to matching less money to higher expenses, whether they are trying to balance the proverbial family checkbook (we suspect most families have moved beyond actual checks these days) or the national budget.
We've seen it for years and it can only get worse in the coming months. It's a frustrating exercise.
Our hope is that we see more of the second quality, cooperation, also kicking in, whether it's bipartisan or interagency.
School districts (and every other agency in the state and country) have to make some changes. These changes are guaranteed to be frustrating, but certainly they are less painful when the players are working together for the same goal.
We see it on the field, now we need to see it in more ruling bodies than the Columbia Basin Big Nine.