On average American families spend $770 USD a year per child in sports.
rThe role of youth sports in family life is different for everyone.
While most families with young children will likely agree that teaching the valuable lesson of winning and losing plus teamwork is a huge element of why parents enroll their kids in community sports. A harsh reality about youth sports is the expensive time investment it takes for parents and kids combined with logistics to be a part of a greater community that makes up over 100K independent leagues in the United States.
Not to mention, the actual dollar cost to participate in community leagues, out of town tournaments and skill camps before they reach varsity age high school sports. The stakes climb in just 10 years for student athletes and families who commit to a life of extracurricular sports from ages 7-17.
On average American families spend $770 USD a year per child in sports; this includes equipment, league fees, travel and snacks. Best not forget the Blue Gatorade to avoid drama.
At this point you are either thinking $770 US dollars spent on one child does seem a little high, right on the money or extremely low.
Therefore we can loosely categorize three stages of participant involvement in youth sports.
The first kind of child sports participant is the most common kind; kids involved for fun and physical activity ages 4-8. I like to think that all parents start out in this category by wanting to get their child accustomed to an active lifestyle. Plus if you have ever experienced an open registration for Little League baseball, kiddie soccer or YMCA sports then you know all about the signup frenzy that is in the air with excitement for an upcoming season.
Generally the seasons cost for these types of 8U leagues is under $200 for a short season and most kids under eight years old play two sport seasons. Good logic says you can spend less than $770 USD in a year with one kid under the age of eight.
The second kind of sports participant is the group that seeks growth past the offering of kiddie soccer and t-ball. Team sports for 9-12 year olds can help build self-esteem and mental toughness as these age groups begin to see a little more competitive nature in the specialization of sports. The 9-12 year age groups are where kids and parents can still consistently have fun before the cost of more resources becomes apparent, mainly time and money.
In speaking with several parents for this article it was not uncommon to spend $300 USD a month during a travel ball season resulting in over $1,000 USD of expenses per season. That brings our annual spend to just under $2,000 USD per year for a two sport athlete under the age of 13.
The third kind of sports participant is the least common and most vested; athletes of the age of 14 are typically seeking serious gains in personal growth. High school level basketball, baseball, soccer, football, volleyball, softball track and field are mostly free to participate in for kids 14-18 year of age.
The real cost of this age group comes from training, equipment, camps, memberships and travel with some families spending up to $7,000 USD a year in a calendar year.
"One weekend of travel ball for a family of four can exceed $1,400 on average," via TedX Talks.
Where is the fun?
A recent survey of parents with kids ages 14-18 playing high school sports showed that more than 52% of parents believed their child would be able land a scholarship post-high school or eventually become a pro athlete. One out of two parents is an incredible figure when you consider only 2% of about 17 million high school athletes actually go on to play collegiate sports, much less become a pro athlete, as pros are the remaining 2% of the those that played in college.
A good investment for parents and high school athletes is specialized position training and elite athlete camps where athletes can improve their relationship building of a sports network that can lead to a lifetime of contacts.
What is not a good investment is supporting endless amounts of travel ball from an early age that puts the health of an athlete at risk and requires participation that has no clear benefits past winning a few tournaments for the branded travel team.
In todays world, a serious high school athlete needs a video highlight reel with a social media presence that are very important to the new rules of recruiting. A professional video highlight reel will cost you on average the same price as one weekend of travel ball but will last you a lifetime.
Recruiting is mostly done in a geographic area due to logistics and cost incurred by the colleges and universities seeking to land talented student athletes. One of the many challenges is shear distance considering many of the schools in general are on the eastern coast with the majority of the talent being spread out all over the USA.
Marty Beall, University of Richmond, Head Coach Women's Soccer, mentioned the use of video in the recruiting process in a recent interview with Varsity Sports Spotlight. Beall stated, "Video is a great tool to get an idea of where an athletes skill level is for me as a coach in the development process."
A challenge of recruiting exposure, lies in simply getting a player evaluation from a higher level college coach. High school athletes should consider video with private Youtube/Vimeo links showcasing thier skills as a part of their recruiting strategy. College coaches rejoice when a student athlete has good grades, can play ball and has the courage to send personal highlights to an older person.
If an athlete is good, the tape will show it. A great highlight video will certainly help you standout from the pack.
If a parent is willing to spend money on your student athlete past the age of 14, then you can bank on video as being one of your best investments through out the high school sports journey.
Parents often overspend on travel ball and underspend on exposure tools like video.
Got questions about filming video highlight reel?
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