How to Plan for the Cost of Youth Sports
“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
Why are some people so dominant in sports? Are they just born that way? Do they just have a gene that others don’t? Did Tiger Woods take his first breath with a golf handicap better than most adults? Not quite.
Tiger Woods started learning golf at a very young age. The effort his father, a US Army Officer, athlete, and golfer in his own right, put into his sons’ learning was tremendous. Think of the time spent driving to the golf course, golf clubs, instruction fees, green fees, and the proper attire. How much did that add up to? A lot.
The Woods family is an extreme example. Very few of us will start spending on sports instruction at the age of 2 and continue at the level Tiger’s father did. Many of us will seek out ways for our children to learn teamwork, leadership, and get some exercise through sports.
The New Testament gives an endorsement on the benefits and things we can learn from sport.
"Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1Timothy 4:7-8 ESV
We can probably all agree that sports are a benefit to our children. Whatever the benefits, there’s still a cost to it. This can be hard to figure out too.
A survey found that spending on youth sports ranged dramatically. Over half of those surveyed spent between $100 and $499 each month. Even if you’re on the low end, this can be a big expense. Here’s some things to investigate ahead of time so you can avoid surprises and be ready for this new budget item.
Some sports have equipment requirements before you even walk onto the field or court. This will also vary dramatically by sport. Your equipment costs will be very different for hockey vs. swimming. This does not mean the ice is not right for your family but check it out ahead of time. Take some time to look around online and get a feel for what each item might cost. Do this even if you played the sport yourself growing up. The cost has gone up since then. Some local stores even have a list of what is needed for local leagues. Just keep in mind they may not be quoting what you need, but what they want to sell!
Look online or contact the league for the sport you are considering. Even municipal leagues have a registration fee of some kind. Be sure to ask about other costs like uniform or facility fees. Also ask about timing. Timing of payment and registration will sometimes impact the cost.
Camps, lessons, or clinics
Will your young athlete attend any opportunities to hone their skills? If you plan to enroll in any additional opportunities like a skills camp, include that in your plans. This can be a great way to learn more about the game and has a cost of its own.
Will the team travel anywhere for events or games? Some sports or levels of play travel more than others. Know this ahead of time so you know if you’re looking at a trip, hotel, or other expense. At the very least, think about driving to practices and games for what that means for additional driving miles each month. Remember to include travel when you budget for kids' sports.
Level of play
This is more difficult to quantify but think about the level your athlete will be competing at. A club team and a recreational league will differ in the items we already mentioned, but this is a consideration that marries a number of these line items. As you might suspect, more intense opportunities bring more intense costs. The decision about what’s right for your family is a separate from this, just don’t let it be a surprise.
As a final consideration, find a friend or acquaintance to speak with about the sport you are considering. This can be a great way to get answers to these and other questions. You might even find out equipment that’s not needed or a way to save.
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