Sports are a great way to teach kids how to work with others, learn new skills and take care of their bodies. But, there’s a lot more to being an athlete than just showing up ready to play.
From gear to equipment to transportation, the costs of playing a sport can really start to add up. Toss in registration along with general program fees, and it may feel like your bank account is running out of steam just short of the finish line.
It might take a bit of hunting to find the activity suited for your child and your budget. While thinking ahead, it’s a good idea to question what goes into running a local sports program for kids and how these costs get tallied up.
Chris Novak, i9 Sports program director for east Oakland and central Macomb counties, says the costs vary for each sports program.
He says a single season’s fees will typically include uniform requirements, field rentals (if needed), training costs for volunteer coaches, training and wages for experiences sports instructors, trophies, medals and website maintenance.
“Youth sports leagues vary in price significantly, and a lot of the price difference comes from the factors mentioned above,” he says. “If you are looking for a program that includes paid staff members, has a person dedicated to keeping parents in the loop and has a current website that you can visit to see all schedules/snacks/updates, a family will likely pay more for that league compared to others.”
The cost of equipment also plays a big role in price, and Novak says sports leagues who provide equipment are also typically cheaper than more expensive counterparts.
In response, his program works to include all the equipment needed with registration, so parents don’t have to worry about splurging on the latest new helmet or aluminum bat.
Cost cutting measures
In terms of cutting costs for parents, Novak says each youth sports program will have different programs in place – such as special discounts for returning players and players who sign up early, or programs for the families of passionate young athletes who happen to be struggling financially.
Bring along a large group of friends for team discounts, Novak says, or work as a coach for your child’s team.
“Create lasting memories by coaching,” he says. “Returning coaches get big discounts.”
Timing also matters. Novak says parents should keep in mind the most expensive leagues tend to run in the winter.
“The largest factor for this is that there are only so many gymnasiums and indoor turf fields in the area, and the venue owners charge us a hefty premium to rent out their facilities during the winter,” Novak says.
However, at the end of the day, Novak says parents looking at price tags should consider what sort of league or program fits best for them.
“It really depends on what each family is looking for,” Novak says.
Most expensive sports
So, what are the most expensive sports for kids to play? Here are seven heavy wallet hitters in the sports world.
Not everyone owns a horse, probably because they need space to run, a stable to sleep, food to eat, and someone who is properly equipped to ride. Keeping a horse healthy can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,600-plus annually. Not including stabling costs, which vary among locations.
Plus, your little equestrian will need a helmet, boots, saddle, lessons, riding time and a place to ride.
Ice Hockey/Figure Skating
Skates are expensive. Prices increase as you go from a baby with booties to a teenager pulling off astonishing turns with blades that need to be sharpened accordingly.
We won’t glide around it, the programs themselves will require some cold hard cash. Beginner figure skaters start at the low end, around $1000 per year, but more advance skaters can run parents up to $30,000 annually.
Hockey parents may find themselves doling out $300-$700 for an equipment starter kit and $500 for a pair of solid skates and that’s not including registration fees, which vary by program and location.
Purchasing the proper equipment in this sense certainly isn’t lax. Lacrosse gets pricey up front, plus parents may have to pay replacement costs for when things grow too old or broken.
Sticks can cost anywhere from $40 to $100, helmets can go from $120 to $200, gloves run from $50 to $100, padding needed for arms and shoulders range $45 to $80, and quality cleats will be anywhere from $40 to $100-plus.
A good bat for your pro-Little League player whose hitting it out of the park could run around $200 and a glove in their team colors runs $325 (though cheaper options for both of these items can sometimes be found online and at your local retailer). If your child is a pitcher, a private lesson with an instructor runs $75-$125 per hour.
Traveling players who go far from home will need around $3,000 for that weekend in Springfield, Illinois for the regional tournament.
There’s a lot that goes into teaching your tyke how to tackle and sprint their way to a touchdown.
Registration fees and league fees are both separate costs. Plus, the entire uniform, including helmet, shoulder pads, jersey, cleats, pads, pants and socks ranges from around $220 to $400-plus. Travel fees and individual league deposits, participation, and fundraising not included.
While there’s not a lot of personal equipment associated with gymnastics, the lessons and travel expenses add up quickly.
Recreational classes start at $15-$20 for kids but classes for competitive gymnasts average around $150-$300 a class with some intensive programs costing as mush as $500.
Add coaching, clothing, entry fee and travel costs and you’re looking at an upwards of $7000.
Golf costs add up, while not quite as out of reach as you may think. You must first purchase a junior set of golf clubs, which starts at around $130 and a bag for around $100. Then, you have to get your accessories, which includes gloves ($20), balls ($40-$50) and shoes ($35-$70).
It starts adding up though when you add in lessons for $100-$500 and practice on a golf course for anywhere between $5 to $50 a round or $500-$2500 a year.
Do you know of any other expensive sports parents should know about? Tell us about them in the comments.
This post is updated regularly.