Youth sports have never been more popular and with the tremendous explosion in popularity there comes a price. Anyone who has a child in youth sports these days, especially if it’s a club or travel team will agree that the multitude of associated costs can sometimes strain a family budget. Whether your child plays baseball, basketball, soccer, rugby, lacrosse or any other sport, the dollar signs start to add up fast when you factor in league or tournament fees, equipment, uniforms, travel, meals, training, etc. Plus, when sports can now sometimes run year round instead of just seasonally, there seems to be no pro team maker end to the contributions a parent must make to keep their child’s burgeoning athletic career in motion. By some estimates, the average sports family spends over $2,000 a year in sports related costs alone! That is some serious cash, so any way you can possibly to make your money go further would probably be of interest.
As the head of an AAU Basketball program, one thing I always try to be cognizant of is to keep expenses down for the families, as I don’t want the cost to be an impediment to a child being able to participate in the program. We run a family-oriented program with the goal of giving every player a chance to contribute to our organization’s success and to learn valuable life lessons through the sport of Basketball. However, as with any competitive travel team, there are expenses that accrue which are mostly covered by the athletes’ parents. For that reason, we try to do everything we can to minimize the costs, while maximizing the value to our players and I think many programs strive to do that as well so that we can focus on the most important thing: the kids.
With that being said, here are some practical tips you can apply to your child’s given sport or passion to help keep your expenses down without sacrificing their ability to participate or enjoy in the fun.
1) ENSURE YOUR PLAYER’S COMMITMENT
Is the money you will be paying out well worth it? Have a frank discussion with your child beforehand to gauge their level of interest. It can be very frustrating for a parent to commit financial resources out front, only to find their child’s interest waning or low level of commitment.
2) GET YOUR PLAYER TO CONTRIBUTE
Depending on your player’s age, you may want to have them contribute to their sport’s expenses. Or maybe agree upon extra chores or things the athlete can do as a way to show how much they appreciate and want to help out in pursuit of something they love and benefit from.
3) TRY A REC OR COMMUNITY LEAGUE FIRST
Is this your child’s first time trying a sport? Instead of going all out with a club or travel team where the fees and costs are generally higher, why not see how much your child enjoys the sport first by engaging at a lower level like those offered by community or recreation programs. Normally these are less intense programs that give your young athlete a chance to learn the basics and get their feet wet, while also costing only a fraction of what higher-level leagues and programs require.