There is no denying that playing youth sports, especially at a highly competitive level, can costs $1000s of dollars per child each year. Paying to play has practically become the new normal in youth sports, especially since more and more youth athletes are playing year round (either one sport all year or a new sport each season), and parents are looking to give their children every extra edge possible, including one-on-one coaching sessions, high-powered travel teams, fancy equipment, and more. In the United States, parents spend $671 on average per year to cover the costs of uniforms, registration fees, and private lessons and coaching. At least 1 in 5 ends up spending over $1,000 per child, every year.
Some sports are inherently more expensive than others, simply because you have to invest in more equipment (think how much gear a hockey goalie has versus a soccer player). But when all is said and done what are some of the most expensive youth sports you can play?
If you live in New England or the mountains of Colorado skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports are readily available to try. Play It Again Sports says that skiing is one of the most expensive sports you can try (and one that children will likely quit). Their rundown of used skis ($200), boots ($100), poles ($25), a helmet ($50), goggles ($30), skiiing pants ($40) and gloves ($30) comes out to a total expense of $535 for gear alone. Never mind the lift tickets each weekend, private lessons, and travel costs of getting to and from the mountain. With the Winter Olympics just ending, your child might be dreaming of becoming the next Shaun White or Mikaela Shiffrin, but just be aware that it’s an expensive road to the top of that mountain!
According to ESPN, one hockey family has spent $48,850 on their daughter’s hockey dreams so far. Club dues have added up to $20,000, while travel expenses and private coaching sessions/clinics/camps were another $10 grand each. Even if your child isn’t playing at the highest level of youth hockey, it can still cost near $1,000 or more per season. Never mind the time investment that comes with playing youth hockey—many players have to be on the ice at 5 AM…and the ice is two hours away!
If your son or daughter wants to join a youth football league run by Youth Football USA the regular season registration fees alone at $199.00. Pop Warner leagues can cost $75 to $200, based on the league’s discretion. If your child makes it to the high school level, the cost to play gets even more expensive.
Alta High reported the highest optional costs at $830. Head coach Bob Stephens offers a summer camp at Snow College for $290, weekly team meals for $90, summer weight training for $80, a fitness class for $35, a highlight video and pictures for $55, miscellaneous activities for $60, and a $220 spirit pack that includes a hooded sweatshirt, duffel bag, team-logoed T-shirt and shorts, compression shirt, core shorts, game socks, a practice girdle and a mouthpiece.
These costs are supposed to be optional, but many parents feel that if they don’t pay their children won’t play. Either the coach will hold some kind of grudge, or their teammates’ skills will surpass their own player’s.
Baseball and softball equipment accounted for $488 million in wholesale sales in 2010, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. A blog post on CBS Moneywatch in 2009 quoted one family who paid $4000 for their 9-year old to play on a traveling baseball team.
Sports parents—how much are you spending on youth sports each season?