As parents, you want to give your kids the best of everything. Most parents want their children to have everything they missed out on in childhood, as well as all the things they enjoyed.

For many parents that means having your kids involved in sports. In many cases, it means lots of different ones too. Encouraging your children to try a variety of sports is a smart plan for parents, but the rising costs of exposing your children to multiple sports can price many families out of participation.

Importance of Sports

It is true that sports have many benefits to offer youth today. The first benefit is that it takes them away from their favorite screens and gets them on their feet and active. In a world where childhood obesity is running rampant, this is crucial for parents and children alike.

The second thing sports offers children is helping them understand how to be part of a team. That often makes participation a worthy investment. They provide opportunities for children to learn the valuable lessons of how to interact, communicate, lead, and follow.

Finally, kids’ sports teach important life lessons about winning and losing. Whether participation prizes are handed out or not, the kids know the score. They are keeping track and understand the thrill of winning and the disappointment of losing. Why is this so important? Because it prepares them for wins and losses that will occur later in life – when the stakes are much higher.

Expectations Meet Budget

The problem is that it is not only the initial costs that are the problem – even though they can be high enough. The Simple Dollar reports that parents spend $671 per year, on average, on youth sports per child, with 20 percent of parents spending upward of $1,000 per child.

These fees include a wide range of things, including:

  • Facility Fees
  • Enrollment Fees
  • Coaches
  • Equipment

It doesn’t include other things that drive the costs for youth sports, especially for kids in competitive leagues or on travel teams, like:

  • Tournament Fees
  • Gas for Travel
  • Lodging
  • Food for Travel
  • Special Uniforms and Equipment
These costs can add up quickly – especially for parents who have more than one child playing competitively.

It is wise for parents to consider the variations in costs from one sport to the next when enrolling kids in sports. Football and hockey, for instance, require the greatest amount of equipment and often cost more money. That is especially the case when compared to sports like basketball or gymnastics which require little additional equipment.

Keep costs in check and be realistic with your budget. You may opt to join recreational and neighborhood leagues rather than travel teams, clubs, and competitive leagues if cost is a factor. Recreational venues typically charge lower fees and may offer things like equipment lending programs. This approach can offer broader exposure and a fun way to exercise, without breaking the bank.

Estimates by Sport

USA Today provides an excellent breakdown of approximate costs for youth sports by sport. Bear in mind that there will be regional differences and competitive leagues that require tryouts may need a larger investment.

Basketball. A sturdy pair of sneakers and a good ball and you are ready to get started with basketball. You can often find leagues that cost $100 or less to participate as well. However, you can get up into the stratosphere with costs going as high as $1,500 - $2000 annually if you get your child involved in travel ball and year-round leagues.
Swimming. Swimming is another sport that can be affordable at lower levels but can grow to one or two thousand as involvement and competition increases.

Soccer. Recreational soccer can be an inexpensive pursuit, requiring a solid pair of soccer cleats and shin guards. When your child becomes part of travel teams and soccer clubs the costs can soar to $5,000 per year easily.

Baseball. From gloves and cleats to baseball uniforms, bats, helmets, protective masks, and uniforms, baseball can be a costly pursuit once you leave the coach-pitch leagues – especially when playing competitively. That does not even include travel expenses that will likely include overnight trips and tournaments.

Ice Hockey. Considering skates (which can easily run $600 a pair), costly ice time, pads, uniforms, and league fees, hockey can easily run more than $6,000 a season.

Setting Boundaries

Ultimately, as parents, you are going to have to establish a sports and activity budget for each of your children and work with your kids to choose the best avenue of pursuit when it comes to youth sports. It is never easy telling your child no, and no parent wants to discourage activities that have so much to offer, but including your child in this decision teaches your child important life lessons about budgeting money, time and energy.

Youth sports are outstanding for teaching your child important life lessons as long as you do not travel straight into dire financial straits to do so. Keep it simple, set boundaries, and explain the realities and economics (big picture economics) to your child for yet another great lesson in life.
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