The costs associated with youth sports have risen in recent years, creating a very real burden for families with multiple kids playing sports — especially if they play sports year-round. Unlike generations of the past, league fees alone can put a cramp on family finances, but that’s just the beginning. A recent study published on ESPN examined the costs of youth sports today and found that the lowest annual cost to be track and field (roughly $191 a year), while the most expensive sport was ice hockey (about $2,582 a year). When you add in a few kids you can see that these costs can quickly become prohibitive for many families today.
Where are the costs coming from these days?
Youth sports cost more today, but why? One family discussed their costs with two sons playing travel sports, offering a breakdown of where the money goes:
Gloria’s sons, Christopher and Axel, play in such competitive soccer leagues that registration fees can cost around $1,800 annually. This doesn’t include the cost of uniforms, equipment, tournament fees and every cost associated with out-of-town travel, including hotel rooms and food. These costs are even higher if the families want to go with their kids to watch them play.
Aside from league fees needed to simply turn on the lights, all the additional necessary expenses add up very quickly when you take into account examples like the one above. Of course, there are also many unforeseen costs, too, including medical costs associated with injuries, specialized training coaches, nutritionists, sport psychologists, and for some parents missed revenue opportunities if they own their own business and travel to their kids games instead of working.
Youth sports aren’t the only expense families feel, as many schools across the country help defray athletic costs by passing some along to families. These additional fees can range from just a few dollars, to potentially hundreds of dollars for families with multiple kids competing at the same school. With more schools today spending on new turf on their fields and state-of-the-art weight rooms, costs add up quickly, leaving many families in extremely tough positions trying to figure out how to finance their kids athletic experiences.
Other factors impacting youth sport participation
In addition to rising costs, many kids are exiting sports at younger ages because of how professionalized youth sports have become. What this means is more sport intensity and seriousness, sometimes stealing the fun kids normally have playing sports. In fact, when kids stop having fun playing sports and begin seeing sports as a job, they often experience sport burnout — and quit sports prematurely as a result. Today’s travel sports have both provided better training/competition, as well as new challenges with respect to time commitment, travel, and money.
The costs associated with youth sports continue to climb, presenting ongoing challenges to countless numbers of families across America. In the future we will need to continue to learn ways to both defray costs associated with youth sports and provide fun experiences instead of mini professional sports. Keeping the costs of youth sports in check helps kids grow in many different ways, including physically and emotionally, making it a very worthwhile endeavor for adults to explore creative ways to control rising costs.