I am not the world’s biggest hockey fan (understatement of the century) but I do live in the State of Hockey and I do have a son. Slowly but surely, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I will probably have – err, I mean, get to watch my child play at least one season of hockey.
Everyone tells me I will grow to love it but there’s also one gripe I hear from almost every hockey parent: “It’s so expensive.” The gear. The tournament entry fees. The travel. The time. And it’s not an exaggeration. Our financial planner told us that he ran the numbers for another client of his: The cost of just one of their sons playing competitive hockey would set their retirement back five years.
But parents are not afraid to shell out the big bucks to keep their kids involved in multiple sports. TeamSnap, a Boulder, Colo., team and activity management service, surveyed 250+ parents, managers and coaches about the amount of time and money spent on youth sports, the range of sports they are involved in and their communication habits to gather insight about investment and communication preferences among parents of young athletes.
• The highest percentage of respondents reported paying in the range of $3,000 to $5,000 annually for youth sports and several reported paying as much as $10,000 per year.
• The most common sport played by TeamSnap users is soccer, at 60 percent of respondents, followed by hockey, at 14 percent, baseball, at 13.5 percent and basketball, at 8 percent.
• The most common age bracket is 11-to-13 years old, at 40 percent of respondents, followed by 14-to-18 years old and seven-to-10 years old, both at 20 percent.
• A substantial 80 percent of the respondents were team managers or coaches; 54 percent communicate an update to players and parents two to three times a week and 34 percent spend at least 15 hours on all child team activities each week.
It wasn’t like this when I was growing up but this seems to be the norm today. Do these figures ring true for you and your peer group? Are youth sports worth the investment? Does this kind of commitment to athletics – financial and otherwise – encourage balance? What does this tell us about how family life and priorities are shifting in the American home?