The Cost Of Sports – Not Child’s Play

Are your kids involved in activities that are expensive? I signed up with a tennis club last week so I can continue to play during the winter months. I got 39 matches in this summer (playing outside) and it is hard for me to now pay for something I could do for free under the summer sun.

I figure it will cost me about $750 to play 1-2x a week under the heated bubble between now and next April.

I was commiserating with a friend at lunch about this cost and the waitress said that her high school daughter’s indoor soccer costs over $2K. That was just the cost of the coaching, equipment, and indoor ‘bubble time’. Travel fees to distant events cost her even more. She said waitressing was a side hustle just to cover that activity. A couple days later, a neighbor said that with travel costs, her daughter’s volleyball club team/coaching runs almost $5K!

When I looked it up online, I found a recent TIME cover story about the costs of kid’s sports. They say it is a $15.6 billion dollar industry that has doubled in the last decade. A study in Utah showed the average family there was laying out over $2,900 annually. Hockey and LaCrosse were the two most expensive sports – averaging over $7,000 a year. Just the cost of the average sport invested annually at 5% over 10 years would tally nearly $40,000. That’s a nice college scholarship, isn’t it?

These numbers certainly put my winter tennis costs (and my wife’s gym membership) in perspective. I’m not sure I can afford to be a kid again! When did kid’s sports get so out of control? Let’s be honest, few of these kids will continue in these activities after high school anyway. For the cost, I’m glad my son ran cross-country (was still about $500), played in the band (free @ school), and was in Scouts (sold popcorn & wreaths). We got by pretty cheap!

How do you justify the cost of these activities or offset them?

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “The Cost Of Sports – Not Child’s Play

  1. The older I get, Chief, the less I spend on personal sports. Racquet sports are history for me. Aging joints just can’t handle them anymore. Sailing is history for me. My lower spine can’t handle that anymore. Aerobic walking, biking, and swimming are still good, and cost near-to-nothing three-seasons a year. Silver Sneakers (as a free auxiliary service of my Medigap policy) pays for membership at local health club that has a pool. In my experience, cost of sports activities is justified as a “just-do-it-until-you-can’t” category of retirement spending, because the body declines sooner than funds do. Second, instead of considering sport costs as recreation (therefore, optional) consider them as wellness activities (therefore, necessary). Easy breezy!

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    • Yes – they are definitely wellness activities. Fortunately, they are the ones I enjoy the most. Tennis is the most expensive (~$500-$750/winter), but I also am in a curling league ($360 for Sep-April) and a softball league (just $50 with a free jersey!). The other days I fill in with walks, hikes, and treadmill time.

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  2. Here in the Chicago suburbs, the kids sports industry is insane! My 13 year-old son plays basketball (which is relatively inexpensive) and the cost of travel feeder teams + AAU spring and fall teams + summer camps and clinics is easily $3500 a year. It has nothing to do with scholarship dreams or playing in college–It’s all about making the high school freshman team! And It’s so competitive, it takes year-round training starting around age 9. In our school district, there are 15 or 20 middle school kids in each grade playing 100 basketball games a year. (And our high school team is pretty average.) Every family I know has kids playing in at least one serious sport– hockey, baseball, soccer, swimming, golf, field hockey, lacrosse etc. etc. It’s really a different world since I was a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow – that is quite an ‘industry’ for kid’s sports. We’re in the Twin Cities and I’m sure it’s no different here. Our son wasn’t very sports-minded, so I guess we were lucky enough to avoid most of that cost. If they enjoy it, I am sure it is as rewarding as theater, music, or scouts – but what a big cost!

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  3. we did it differently. We bought an aprt. where as common space there are:
    – swimming pool covered
    -tennis space, uncovered.
    There are some fees for “maintain” it. But we spend exacly 2 minutes to arrive to the swimming pool or for a tennis.
    So finally we cut the fees for club subscribing. We cut the transport costs (no car). We cut the time spend in trafic. We have no more escuse and we go often to swim.
    Yep, the aprt. is a little more expensive, but we just calculate that when we will sell it in 10 years we will recover the money. But we cannot sell the tennis club card or the car after 10 years … 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds ideal. Our neighborhood has a pool & tennis court, but not a gym. And, since we are in Minnesota, we can’t do outdoor sports for about 5 months, other than walking/running.

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