If you’ve been following scholastic sports for any amount of time and have any awareness of where tax rates have been heading, you could see this coming. School athletic programs are going from feeling the pinch to facing the ax.

And it doesn’t matter the size of the community, as student-athletes in Portland and Sabattus are learning all too well this week.

School sports in both places are in danger. Angry taxpayers fed up with annual increases in the school budget have demanded relief. School boards have trimmed as much fat as they can over the years and have nowhere else to turn.

Last week, a small group of Sabattus voters appropriated about $300,000 less than the current school budget for the upcoming school year. Next Tuesday, the Sabattus School Committee will hold a special meeting to determine how to make the cuts. Many are concerned that school officials will conclude that the only way to operate on what they say is a bare-bones budget will be to cut athletics and other extracurricular activities, so a group of concerned citizens has begun circulating a petition around town to get another vote on the budget.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a son who plays three sports for Sabattus. But regardless of which side of the budget debate you fall on, your community needs you to get involved. And this doesn’t just apply to the good people of Sabattus, either. Because if your city or town isn’t already dealing with this dilemna, it is going to, very soon.

• Mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship have officially crashed the mainstream media with its cover story in Sports Illustrated this week. Though the sport does nothing for me personally, there’s no denying its growing popularity, especially with young males.

This weekend, ridiculously more ink and air time will be devoted to the Indy 500 than tonight’s pay-per-view event, which features one of the most-anticipated bouts in UFC history between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Chuck Liddell. I doubt the viewership difference justifies the coverage discrepancy anymore. The media, especially newspapers with steadily declining readership, would be foolsh to ignore MMA any longer. And if you’re an MMA fan hungry for more coverage, you should let us know.

•-The father of Josh Hancock has filed suit against four people involved in the drunken driving crash that killed the St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher. Among those named in the suit are the man whose tow truck the inebriated Hancock slammed into and the motorist the tow-truck operator was assisting.

Josh Hancock has been treated with kid gloves up to this point by the media. Sorry, Mr. Hancock. I can only imagine your grief. But considering your son’s actions that night and your’s now, I sincerely hope you’re slapped with a countersuit for raising such an irresponsible young man.

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