The high cost of kids’ sports
This guest post from Kay Lynn Akers is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. Kay Lynn writes about money and life at Bucksome Boomer.
More and more children are participating on travel or elite sport teams. Having your child invited to join a travel sports team is an honor but there are consequences to accepting that are not always apparent.
My youngest son was on a traveling ice hockey team for a couple of years at a fairly young age. As a third grader, he was recruited from a developmental hockey class to join the only local traveling team. He was thrilled and I was impressed that he was so good at it.
After understanding the practice and game time commitments and costs, we signed him up. We soon found out there were other costs, both financial and personal.
The costs of the ice time (for practices and games) and uniforms were known upfront. It was a steep price, but I thought we could afford this splurge.
We had purchased nearly all of his equipment during developmental hockey. Of course, young kids are continually growing; skates, sticks, pants and shoulder pads had to be replaced regularly. Even after purchasing used equipment when possible, the costs added up.
Travel teams have regular games out of the local area which brings related expenses. San Diego didn't have any other travel teams in the county for this age group, so every away game was at least 90 miles from home.
This meant spending a lot of time driving up and down the freeway every other weekend. To add to the gas expense, there were meals and sometimes hotels for early morning games.
Once a year, the team participated in tournaments in Las Vegas or Phoenix for several days. The bills for these included registration fees, hotels, and “vacation” time for the parents.
My husband and I were spending two afternoons a week taking the one child to practice, in addition to the weekend trip. My oldest son wasn't on any teams and was getting the short shrift in terms of time and attention from us.
It was difficult to find the time or energy for other family activities that included everyone. This started to eat at us as life was centered around hockey for the second year in a row.
The Win-Win Answer
The hockey player in our family had been asking if he could play baseball and football. He really couldn't do either of these sports because of the long hockey season. I needed him to make a change anyway because the the family and financial burdens were becoming to high to continue.
He probably still thinks it was his decision to leave hockey for other sports. He loved playing both football and baseball and being on teams with his neighbors and school friends. The family won too because our pocketbook wasn't stressed and the schedule was saner.
Participating in a traveling sports team was a good experience overall, but I'm glad we found a way to save money and still give him the benefit of being part of a team.