I appreciate your concern for the taxpayers of our communities but the lesson that our students can learn, and the discipline and commitment necessary for one to be successful at ant sport are among the lesson we try to teach at the middle level. Sports help us extend our classrooms and our lessons in a way that is difficult to replicate in our classrooms. I think that anytime we can extend our programs to get more kids involved in anything to do with school is money well spent.
These are the standard arguments for sports and extra-curriculars, but I don't buy them any more. You can accomplish all the goals of teamwork and discipline through intramurals and extended-block gym programs. I live in a rural area with low population density and yet we've got lacrosse, ice hockey, gymnastics, a running club, a full slate of winter/indoor sports, field hockey, all in addition to the "standard" team sports. Yeah, they cost money, but every league offers some form of scholarship. Money can be got.
What our schools need to do is educate. We need to start the school day later, say 9:00am. The bus picks up down my lane at 6:55am. These kids sleepwalk through the first two periods. Yet, if we started later, we wouldn't have time for these great sports. Secondly, the standard model for middle school is becoming 6-7-8th grades while high school remains 9-12. Middle school is the crisis age and usually the worst school in any school district. 6th grade is way too early for these kids to be in middle school. Yet middle school is too expensive, resources-wise, to be just two grades. It would be much better if middle school were 7-8-9, but that would leave people with "just" three years of varsity sports.
The holy grail of a college sports scholarship is breaking American education. It's time to revisit how we organize our schools, and the mythical place of lessons of sports participation has to be broken.