In today’s economy, with many families living paycheck to paycheck, the cost of youth sports is becoming unmanageable. There are equipment, travel expenses, and perhaps most importantly coaching. For young athletes that hope to play at the high school level, it’s becoming more common for them to have professional coaching in order to make teams.
There was a time when high school sports was relatively accessible to anyone who had an interest. Nowadays, outside club and travel teams have become a major part of the process, something that was once reserved for athletes that had professional aspirations. Today, it’s more or less expected that varsity sports team players will have some club or travel team experience. Not only is this putting a major financial burden on the parents, but it’s forcing kids into the position of investing much more of their time.
How Much Does it Cost to Play Youth Sports?
We’re not talking about parents that want to sign their kids up for a Pop Warner team, but the cost of youth sports for parents who have aspirations that their children will play at the college level, and even high school level, are much higher than they’ve ever been before. While basketball and soccer remain inexpensive in the beginning, sports like baseball and hockey can be expensive right from the word go.
Why? There are three main components that drive up costs, and these will remain the same for most competitive sports.
- Equipment. Equipment for sports like baseball and hockey can add up quickly.
- Coaching. Finding a personal coach that can help your child improve their hitting, pitching, skating, or shooting will run anywhere from $75-$100 an hour.
- Travel and club teams. Individuals who plat at this level are responsible for paying for team dues, hotels, and dinners.
Some high school athletes end up paying $20,000 a year on team fees, private coaching, personal training, equipment, and travel expenses.
Is There a Solution?
One unfortunate reality of the situation is that the problem was created almost entirely by parents and the culture they and their children were born into. The US is extremely competitive, and youth programs, especially for athletes is just as competitive. Every parent wants their child to have a competitive advantage, and for some, there’s an endless stream of money that they’re willing to pour into club teams, trainers, and coaches.
As long as parents are putting this kind of pressure on their children and are willing to pay the large sums necessary to these organizations, the situation will not change.
Is it Worth the Cost?
The cost of the situation is hard to determine in dollars and cents, but it stands to reason that the exorbitant amount of money necessary to fund youth athletes is pricing some parents out of the market, and putting their children behind in terms of coaching and experience. It’s easy to see that we’ve created a situation that is making participation dependent on financial backing. It’s also easy to see why this would drive kids away from sports in general.
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