Children can gain valuable life lessons through games, however, the price for participation is one of the biggest stress points for families.
Youth sports are a big business, with 56% of children under 17 years old playing on teams. Parents on average spend more than $1,000 per year while some see figures up to five figures.
It’s a sacrifice that a family from Washington Terrace says is worth it. “It has gotten progressively higher, the prices have,” Maggie Contreras-Miller stated.
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She is meticulous about calculating the numbers before the hockey season begins making sure she saves every cent to ensure her daughter and son are able to play the game they enjoy.
Dominic is a goalie on an international team, while Olivia is an incoming freshman winger. “We’ve invested a lot,” Contreras Miller said. “We’re talking a lot.”
The kids of Maggie and Reuben have chosen to be one among the sports with the highest cost. To play hockey all year long, Maggie and her husband Reuben spent $5,000 on every aspect of the sport, from gear to travel and tournament costs to summer camps along with private classes.
“My son’s costs to play is around $1,200 to be a member of the group. (For individual coaching) We’re talking about once or twice a week , about an hour every time 50 dollars an hour.” Contreras-Miller explained.
Travis Dorsch, an associate professor at Utah State University and the creator of Families in Sport Lab, believes that this system of pay-to-play hurts children in families with lower incomes.
“We’ve created this system that has professionalized the athlete experience,” Dorsch declared. He believes that leaders in community sports must include more people.
“In some ways, maybe revitalized the rec league, the in-town leagues where many parents simply can’t afford to have their kids off doing the travel league,” the author said.
Aiding families to pay for youth activities is a good initial step.
“The Weber County Youth Hockey they have scholarships that you can apply for,” Contreras-Miller explained, adding that her family is thrifty in other areas. The mother said that families will raise money and carpool, make lunches and do anything to help their kids succeed in character, grow and become part of a group.
“It’s exciting to see your kid go out there and enjoy it and be happy and we don’t have to bribe him to go to practice, so that’s always a plus,” Contreras-Miller added. “I’d say it’s worth $5,000 and more.”
Dorsch claimed that there’s unintended consequences. Children may feel pressured to be successful because they are aware of the amount parents are investing in them, so they could end up loving the sport less and, often, they quit.