I can’t speak for every state, but it is probably true for most states, that (1) no school is required to provide a program of interscholastic activities – such are not curricular activities; and (2) participation in voluntary interscholastic competitive activities is a privilege offered to those who meet standards of eligibility and conduct of the school and standards of ability for the activity involved.
It is not a liability but an asset of competitive interscholastic activities that they are not co-curricular, but extracurricular – voluntary programs with extra standards, extra requirements, extra expectations.
We don’t need to sell the public on the value of participation; they desperately want their children to participate, and they will even sue us for the opportunity. What we have to do is sell the public on the value of the standards we maintain for participation.
Much of the value of school activities results from the standards of school activities. Many of the benefits of school activities accrue from the requirements of school activities. Raise the bar, raise the value. Lower the bar, lower the value.
Activities are much less capable of doing good things for kids and good things for schools and their communities where there are lower standards of eligibility and conduct. It’s the difference between interscholastic and intramural, between tough and easy. It is because schools have raised the bar for interscholastic activities that these programs have value to students, schools and communities.