Sitting at a meeting yesterday for my daughter's soccer team, I couldn't help but wonder if we're all nuts. The initial chunk of change to sign up was quite a bit, but we've been paying that amount for a few years now, so that doesn't surprise me. However, looking at our tournament schedule, we'll probably have at least five out of-state trips. We knew what we were getting into when we signed the dotted line - they're in really cool cities and honestly we're looking forward to it - in fact, my husband and I are arguing about which one of us gets to go. However, it just got me thinking that these costs and expectations are really becoming the new norm in youth sports.
A friend of mine thinks nothing of traveling out of state on average 12 times a year for her daughter's soccer tournaments. A hockey mom I know told me she spends on average $11,000 a year on the sport. Another mom we were with laughed and said that's just her travel budget for figure skating.
A dad told me his son is in private coaching for baseball and spends $125 per hour. On average, he goes 2-3 times a week. He's 12. I've been around a number of competitive dance moms lately and they've given me a glimpse of their financial reality and it's terrifying.
The general consensus is that it's just what it takes.
But my question is, takes for what? To get an edge over the guy next to you? Really, why are we spending so much? There were lots of different answers for that one. Most of them being: "It's their passion", "They're really good", "That's what you have to do to be on the best team" and my favorite and by favorite I mean the one I hate the most "I'm trying to get them a college scholarship"
I'll save the scholarship goal for another post, but I had to mention it knowing it's on the mind of many. I don't think it's wrong to pursue an athletic scholarship (I'd be a hypocrite since my daughter is a scholarship athlete.) However, I feel strongly that it shouldn't be the purpose of a young child playing sports. Scholarships are just an amazing bonus.
What do you spend on youth sports? Do you turn any trips down or are you afraid that would make the coach play your kid less? Do you find it all worth it?
With four out of my five kids doing travel sports, I spend quite a bit and even though I'd prefer NOT to write out more and more checks, I have to admit I love watching my kids do something they're passionate about. That's how we figure out how much we'll spend on an activity -- passion percentage.
But is there a time when it's just too much?
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