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Re: Athletics vs. Band
"Easy" was spot on if you are in a small rural school. I don't where you are or what setting you teach in, but it sounds like it's urban or suburban and definitely middle school and not high school.
Place a grade for all outside school sectionals and rehearsals. The students must feel that it's important to attend the sectional and a grade will do that. Yes, it's the easiest 100 that a kid can receive, but they should receive that 100 for being there. If you allow the students to not be there without a penalty, then they will always choose to not be there. I disagree with "Easy" below, students like to be good and they do like to work hard when shown how to do it.
Also, as the director, you must try to schedule your sectional times around their practice schedules. There are many times that I have to schedule two trumpet sectionals, one for 7th grade athletics and one for 8th grade athletics.
In the end, the kids have to see that you are serious about the sectional and you are willing to make it work.
Last, but not least, you need to keep building relationships with your coaches and your admin. It's up to you and the coaches to work out the schedule without the kids in the middle.