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High school sports struggle amid recession

MIAMI - Tyler Peters has wrapped up his high school athletic career - now he can only feel sympathy for friends who are underclassmen at Coral Gables Senior High.

Across the country this spring, the recession has taken its toll on high school athletic programs. As states and school districts have tried to shore up their budgets, Florida has taken some of the most drastic steps.

The Florida High School Athletic Association is considering sweeping, two-year schedule changes with all sports except football canceling some matches, meets or games. The changes were approved earlier this year, but officials then backed off the plan, saying they would take it up again at a later date.

A swimmer in high school, the 18-year-old Peters said he might have given it up if his season had been cut down.

'If I had three or four meets a year - the season's so short,' Peters said. 'It kind of seems like you're doing that for nothing. That's a part of the experience. If you take those competitions away, you feel like you're practicing for something less important.'

When the fall season starts, many young athletes will feel the effects of cost-cutting measures.

A high school football coach in Washington said he will have tattered uniforms patched up instead of requesting new jerseys. A Virginia school district is exploring 'creative' transportation, under which teams would share buses. And throughout California, which faces a grim financial situation, districts are bracing for tough cuts that could devastate entire programs.

'Help,' said Marie Ishida, executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation. 'It could be dire."