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Welcome to the expensive world of youth sports

Dwight and Judy Carter Davis had travel 4,508 miles to Scotland, the “Home of Golf”, and spend $4,800 over 10 days to watch their 14-years-old son Ian compete in the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship 2017 at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club. He finished tied for 32nd place in the 13-year-old group.

The Davis family is all in when it comes to Ian’s golf, and they are not just dropping thousands for one tournament. Their financial commitment has actually been sizable since Ian played his first tournament at the age of 7. For the sake of his career, they “had to make sacrifices,” such as not “going on as many vacations” and saving a “little less in 401(k)” retirement accounts, explained Dwight, who is a vice president for a global information and communications technology company.

The couple also moved from Dallas to Orlando, so Ian could go to Bishops Gate Golf Academy, where tuition, including academics at Montverde Academy, costs $60,000 yearly. Their goal is to get an athletic scholarship, a good education, and potentially also a pro career on the PGA Tour.

This is just one example of how families stretch their budgets for high-priced youth sports. Annual spending runs into the thousands of dollars for club travel-team tuition and other costs that comes inevitably with it. According to a TD Ameritrade survey, nearly 20% of U.S. families spend more than $12,000 a year, or $1,000 per month per child on a youth sport, which is in line with the median mortgage payment of $1,030 that Americans make monthly, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The survey found that spending on sports crimps other parts of their lives, with 55% saying they “cut back on entertainment,” 40% saying they “take fewer vacations,” and 23% admitting they have “cut back on money set aside for retirement.”

Parents hope that their investment will pay off in an athletic scholarship (67%), or in a professional sporting career (34%). However, the odds of playing a Division I in college are long and slim, and getting to the pros is an even longer shot. NCAA data shows that the probability of a college player going pro is 1.1% in basketball, 1.5% in football and 5.6% in ice hockey.

Even the rare parents, Neil and Lorraine Shea, who have three hockey-playing sons who got college scholarships, couldn’t avoid the financial pinch on this road trip. Looking just at hockey equipment, high-end skates now cost upwards of $1,000 and composite sticks sell for $280. “We lived paycheck to paycheck so they could play hockey. For 10 years it was just hockey madness in my house. On some weekends, we were dropping $300 to $400 bucks on gas alone,” said Neil, current part-time scout for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually play out that way,” said Shea, knowing families who have taken out second mortgages on their homes to help pay for their kid’s sports.

SportyCo can change this significantly. Allowing young athletes to collect funds for their sporting career, we can’t assure they will become professional stars, but we sure can help a lot on the way toward it, without this extreme sacrifices from their families.  

Source: USA Today


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