How much does it cost for your kids to get out of the house for a few hours, and shoot a few hoops, or play some catch, or even a game of football with the neighbor kids? The answer is, not very much at all.
When sports are casually played among kids, baseball and street hockey probably have the highest need for safety and specialty gear, making them the most expensive of the lot. You can’t play baseball without a catcher: the most dangerous position to play.
For a real game of baseball, you need catcher’s gear and equipment that fits properly. Whether for baseball or softball, parents will want to invest into equipment that is safe and casual to play in. For most other sports, you just need a ball, and room to run.
The Cost of Organizing
Once you get into any kind of organized league, regardless of age, the costs skyrocket. On average, expect to pay $671 a year for each of your kid’s sporting ambitions. 21% of parents pay over $1,000 a year per child. These costs include:
- Registration fees
- Practice space and time
- Travel, and more…
Small wonder football is the most expensive of the team sports. The moment kids start intentionally slamming into each other to get an odd-shaped piece of skin across an arbitrary mark on a field, things get exponentially more dangerous, and consequently, more expensive to manage.
Also not surprising, baseball/softball is #2, followed closely by hockey. These are sports with a lot of safety concerns, and a lot of specialized gear. In addition to being very dangerous, these sports are very challenging. They feature core competencies that few people have. There are simply not a lot of people who can accurately throw a ball upwards of 100 mph, let alone, hit one with any degree of regularity. It costs money to transform kids into athletes.
The Cost of Injury
The expense no one likes to talk about is injury. Among kids and adolescents, sports-related injury in school is the second-leading reason for emergency room visits. Millions of kids will be seen by a doctor this year. And that doesn’t count the ones who should be seen by a doctor, but won’t be.
There is no use talking about the chances of injury. If your kid plays a contact sport, the chances are 100% he will get hurt. It is just a matter of degree. The worst of the damage may not show up today. But it will over the course of time. Depending on your insurance coverage, these expenses can be enormous.
The Educational Cost
In this country, there is a noisy coverup of a silent issue: All too often, athletics and academics don’t mix. The noisy coverup comes in the form of the insistent, almost shrill reports of how well student/athletes are doing academically. There is a concerted effort to make us believe that all the time spent in athletic preparation is a net positive for the GPA.
The logical conclusion should be that if your kid is having trouble with grades, they should join a highly demanding team sport. Of course, this is patently absurd! The truth looks more like what is going on in Rockford, IL. They decided to lower the GPA requirement for students to play sports because they were having trouble fielding enough players for the game. Now, the required GPA is 1.6 in a school where the average is 1.5.
By changing the rules, that school suddenly has a bunch of exemplary, student/athletes. This is matched by other chicanery such as the practice of some schools offering easier classes so that athletes can make the necessary grades. Unless your child is already an exceptional student, expect an academic price to be paid.
I’m a big fan of youth sports. But it is not for everyone. Before enrolling your child, count the costs. And be sure it is right for your kid.