Monday, June 16, 2014

Money Monday: The Cost of Competitive Sports

For the next few weeks, the eyes of the sporting world will be on Brazil. It's World Cup time, the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. 

Watching games this weekend reminded me so much of my childhood. In our home, we were all about sports.As a child, I started showing an affinity for soccer fairly early on, and my parents encouraged me to play at the highest level I could. But, playing at such a high level came with a really big price tag. When I was about 12, my folks realized that I had outgrown most of the teams in our small town. I was not being challenged, and I was growing bored. When I was invited to try out for a division 1 team in Houston, about 45 minutes away, my parents drove me to try out. Turns out, I was good enough to play at the higher level, and a decision was made that I would join that team, and ultimately, it would change our lives. 

From that point forward, my life and my parents lives revolved around one thing, my hobby, soccer. Practices were held 3 times a week, so my mom had to drive me 45 minutes each way to practice. Scrimmages were held on Saturday mornings, so that is another hour and a half on the road. Then, games were held on Sunday afternoons, all over Houston, and they could be held up to 2 hours away. On any given week, we were in the car for 8 or more hours just driving to soccer practice and games. 

Then, our team began to travel. We played in Washington, Florida, Colorado, as well as all over the state of Texas. That meant, more flights, more hotels, more meals, and entertainment money to spend at the tournaments. 

Thinking about my soccer career, I am eternally grateful to my parents, but sometimes, I have to wonder, how much did it cost? All the gas, meals, uniforms, and fee's, what could they have done with that money rather than spending it on me to play a game?

Estimated financials for 7 years of club soccer:
Club Fees: Around 1,000 per year  (7,000)
Uniform Fees: New Yearly uniform around 150.00 (1,050)
2 Sets of Cleats per year 100.00 (1,400)
Total: $ 9,450

By my estimation and rough math, that is nearly $10,000, and those are only the fee's I can calculate. I cannot even begin to estimate the amount of money spent on gas, hotels, food, and medical attention due to various injuries over the years. 

Was it worth the cost? If they had to do it over again, would they? Knowing what they know now, was it a smart decision?

Soccer gave me purpose. It gave me a social group. It gave me self esteem and confidence. It kept me out of trouble. I loved every moment of it, and I never once thought of the cost or time commitment. 

Luckily for us, all that work paid off and it gave me a full ride to college. Everything was paid for--tuition, housing, books, and food. I got a monthly stipend from the school for any overages from my scholarship money. That is nearly $70,000 worth of education that my family did not have to pay for. 

Given that estimation, I think it would be safe to say that my parents came out ahead, so financially, it was a smart decision. 

I would not change one thing about the way I grew up, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. In the end, it comes down to the family, the child, and their financial situation and plan. 

What would you do? Do you think club sports are worth it?


Brooke said...

my family didn't have much money, so that wouldn't have been an option. i think its awesome that it paid off for you!!

Denise said...

oh gosh, you may have touched a nerve...

your mom hands down though gets the soccer mom award!! dang, that was a lot of driving.

i think what has changed is that there are now SO many soccer players and teams. Even worse, they are starting younger.

that said, I am so proud of you for getting that scholarship. that is awesome and speaks to your ability!!

so glad now that Tallie is driving herself to practice though!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's impressive that you were able to fund your education through soccer. Good for you, respect! I think in the end it was definitely money well spent, but not being able to predict that outcome, I may have been a tad apprehensive, I must admit!

Cori said...

I am thrilled that your outcome was a good one. Unfortunately I know many who have spent so much money on similar experiences for their children and for the most part it left them in serious debt and no college tuition. Sorry I am a negative Nelly. Gone are the days when a child played on a local team and was good enough to make the high school or college team. I was that athlete and thank goodness for I did get some money to play as well as having some academic ability. I know I wouldn't make it in today's college athletic world. Again it was a wonderful experience for you, but just a word of caution for others.