Sometimes skipping an expensive weekend tournament is the smart choice for families looking to stick with it for the long haul.
It’s no secret that playing sports can offer a wealth of benefits for kids, including physical fitness, honing social skills and actually getting some fresh air.
There are also many studies that show getting started earlier in certain sports increases kids’ chances of playing that sport in college. That’s why, for many parents, the thought of not paying college tuition down the road is like hearing a cash register go “cha-ching!”
Unfortunately, that same mentality also causes families to overdo it, whether it’s by spending too much of their budget on youth sports or packing kids’ schedules so tight that they eventually burn out and quit altogether.
The truth is that youth sports continue to grow and pull in more money, and parents will likely continue to sign their kids up for pricey club and travel teams.
According to Time, “Even during the depths of the Great Recession, revenue for Travel Team USA, a company that books youth-sports travel, continued to double year over year.”
The fact that parents want what’s best for their kids isn’t breaking news. The real concern is that many kids who deserve to play at a high level are simply getting priced out of youth sports. The Courier Times shares that “… costs can range from about $2,500 per year for a 12-year-old playing local ball to as much as $22,000 per year for a 14- to 18-year-old player competing nationally.”
In regard to entering organized sports ESPN states that, “The biggest indicator of whether kids start young, Sabo found, is whether their parents have a household income of $100,000 or more.”
Yes, youth sports can get expensive. Sometimes very expensive. But there’s also a smart way to participate, and coaches can help families make smart decisions about their budgets. After all, parents want to keep their kids playing. That’s why we’ve compiled some helpful tips that coaches can pass along to parents and to help keep their kids playing for years to come:
Don’t go overboard on expensive equipment and apparel. New equipment may look nice and shiny, but the fact is that the budget-priced stuff can also get the job done. Goodwill shops, thrift stores and Play It Again Sports can offer a treasure trove of affordable gear and apparel.
Sell your old gear. Is the garage getting overrun by old sports gear that doesn’t fit anymore? Some of it can still fetch a good price on Ebay or Craigslist, and parents can even find a great deal for replacement gear.
Organize fundraisers. A bake sale or other fundraiser can go a long way in helping parents afford club fees.
Pack food for trips. Eating out on the road adds up fast. Cooking a big batch of food and packing it for the trip can be a big money saver.
Try carpooling. Parents with large vehicles can take turns driving kids around, which makes a big difference in transportation costs.
Consider camping on trips. Hotel costs for weekend tournaments and travel games adding up fast? Camp sites can be booked for a fraction of the cost and can be great fun too.
Have the team offer a payment plan. Families on the fence about playing next season will be able to budget better, and teams will retain more kids. It’s a win-win.
Don’t encourage parents to overspend. If families can find a way to make their budget work, they’ll likely keep their kids playing. But if they go over budget, they might not come back next season. Sometimes skipping an expensive weekend tournament is the smart choice for families looking to stick with it for the long haul.