Are Youth Sports Worth the Investment?

What is the number one leisure activity of millionaires according the Dr. Stanley of the Millionaire Next Door?  It is watching their children and grandchildren play youth sports!

Soccer 2

I posted this on the Rockstar Forums and got a few responses, but I am really curious if this is normal, or is it a hopeful father squandering away his money.

Post from the Rockstar Forum:

I have three kids and they are all athletic (both parents played NCAA sports), and they play multiple sports each, but now with a middle schooler, I noticed that the price is going up. Here is what I have already spent in 2017 on my kids sports and there is still more to come for the rest of 2017.

Soccer $230
Volleyball $915
Swim Team $800
Basketball $390
Middle School Misc. fees $175
Total: $2510 in 7 months

We have about $1800 that I can think coming up in the fall sports season, and next year we could easily be over $5,000 a year for youth sports. My daughter wants to play club volleyball, and that goes at about $3,000 a year alone if we go that route. I also didn’t add up all the driving, eating out, and other misc. expenses that go along with this lifestyle. They even charge me $4 to watch my daughter play sports in middle school. That’s per person for every game.

So, what do you pay for youth sports? Is it worth the expenses? Is it better to just say no, and save the money? My 7th grade daughter is 5’10” and pretty mean at Volleyball, my two sons are a head taller then everyone else, so I feel they got a better shot in certain areas. Let me know what you think and how your family sports is going.

After that post, I got a pretty good response about hockey from MamaFishSaves.  She talked about her, and her brothers, hockey days, and how he might have been a better investment because of the money making opportunities for men in hockey compared to women.  She opted to get an education and move on, but her brother is still playing.  Also, SFF brought up good points about injuries, and martial arts, and other active activities that kids are involved with.  There is a ninja warrior training school in my town now, for kids to learn to be ninjas like on the TV show.  I’m not going to repeat all the forum discussion, but it’s in the Forum if you want to read it all of add too it (It’s still going on).

Surfing as a youth sport

Since posting my question, I have been doing some research in a non formal way by asking my friends with kids how much they think they spend on their kids sports.  I heard things like $500 a year per kid is their agreed budget (They have five kids), or $8,000 plus travel for their daughter in club volleyball (She did get a full scholarship after two years of doing that).  Again, I live in a more affluent area, being the richest county in Texas, but it seems that most people are spending about $200-$300 a month on youth sports.  I assume, that based on the statistics, that most of these kids sports are not investments that pay off in the end.  I coach high school basketball and we have had in 12 years of coaching, and making the playoffs in 10 of those years, only six Division I athletes, and 4 others who got minor scholarships.  We have 15 on the team every season and 10 total have gotten some or all of their college paid for with basketball out of 180 players.  I think that number is high compared to most schools, because we are on the recruiting trail, and because of our success. We have also built connections with coaches and our coaching staff over the years that helps get our kids noticed.  Also, most of those guys picked up on scholarships also played a lot of basketball on the AAU circuits for further exposure (Travel does cost a lot).

However, most of the time those players who do not go on to college on scholarships, do


get something that is more valuable.  They develop “grit” and mental toughness that other kids do not develop.  These players have been put in stressful situations for years in practice and in the games.  They have pushed themselves beyond what they thought they could do.  They have learned to work with others for common goals, and listen to a game plan and executed it.  This is the training that makes most former varsity athletes successful in the business world.  It is estimated that 95% of CEO’s played highly competitive sports, and it shaped them to be successful in life.  You may be paying for youth sports to teach your child important life lessons that you can’t get anywhere else.  You may be paying for their college, but playing youth sports will pay off later in their lives with their determination and competitive nature in business.

You may also be setting your child up for a longer life and better quality of life.  Exercise is known to lengthen peoples lives.  Blue Zone studies (areas in the world where people live over 100 year of age more often) have shown that natural movement is a key factor to living longer.  People in these areas of the world walk more and exercise more than the average person.  Teaching your kids a lifestyle of sports, martial arts, and that exercise is fun, can pay off in a better quality of life, and a longer life for your children in the long run.  Teaching healthy living makes a better well rounded person.

We can’t talk about youth sports without mentioning socioeconomics in our country.  As

Equestrian is not for the poor.

mentioned above my area is more affluent, so parents can afford to pay for more and more advanced youth programs for their children.  So, we become better at highly technical sports such as gymnastics, swimming and diving, baseball, lacrosse, golf, wrestling, and we have the best facilities to train in (Higher taxes too).  Our football team has an entire indoor practice facility and three practice fields with our 8,000 seat stadium, and our basketball team has three gyms and our own weight room.  Our athletes go to team camps, have personal trainers, travel on AAU teams, and have resources to get better at home.  In the past I worked in a poorer area of Dallas where $50 for a spring league meant their family water bill wasn’t getting paid that month.  Those athletes only played what was free and offered at their local school or recreation center.  Our basketball team was good because the cost of a ball and playing at the park or rec. was next to nothing.  Our athletes played at the park at all hours in the off season, but our other school sports suffered, because no one could afford gymnastics, club volleyball, or AAU.  That’s where I got my phrase, “If it’s free, it’s for me.”  One of my players said it to me about him joining a league for $50.  I secretly paid the fee, and told him they “scholarshiped” him in.  He got to play at a division III school and graduated, so I figure that was a good investment.  Socioeconomics does play a factor in youth sports and equal opportunities for kids.

BowlingOn to another topic, I have some friends who looked into what is the best sport for their non athletic children, and as it turns out women’s golf has scholarships every year that go unused, because they can’t find enough girls who even golf.  Also, NCAA bowling is a thing, and I saw a kid who averaged 205 get a full ride to Wichita State to bowl!  I also heard for men who want a big payday, that hockey is your best bet, because it is not played by half our country in the South.  It’s a 2% chance you can go play some sort of professional hockey.  Basketball is the most difficult unless you are 7 foot tall, then 20% of all 7 footers on earth are either in the NBA, or has played in the NBA (crap I’m only 6’10”).  So a little research can go a long way in guiding your future professional in the right direction, but remember it’s like winning the lottery to go pro, and genetics can play a factor in the route you might want to guide junior.

Now, let’s say you decide no sports at all for my kids, and you invested $5,000 a year in a nice account some place, and got your 8%, and after 18 years of this…$202,231.32 is there for your children (according to moneychimp).  Is it better to give your children the money for college or for starting a life or gambling on youth sports?  If you invest the money did you teach your child “grit” or teach them a healthy lifestyle?  Did you get to enjoy your child, enjoying competition like most leisurely millionaires?  So, when you decide whether youth sports is worth the investment look at all the benefits versus all the down sides.  Look at the future and the present.  Think about how they helped, or hurt you, and use that information before just looking at the dollar signs.  Also, look at all your options because cheaper ones will always appear if you are looking. (Right now we are playing beach volleyball for $600 for 3 months, instead of indoor volleyball for $3,100 for the same 3 months.  Its the same club team also, and you learn more playing 2 on 2 on a softer surface, sand, meaning less injuries and more skills.  Win-Win!!


Let me know in the Forum or in the comments below how much your family pays for youth sports and any tricks you have found to get the most for less.  Share your stories to help all us parents and future parents navigate youth sports better and for less.



Add yours →

  1. We haven’t delved into this arena yet (our son just turned 2), but I anticipate we will be considering this question before we know it! I think generally, I like the idea of limiting activities to one activity at a time/per season. So- if kiddo wants to play soccer and take swim lessons at the same time, he would have to choose which sport he wants to pursue. Haha- but we’ll see what ends up happening!


  2. I think we spent basically zero on kids sports. We tried to interest our kids in youth sports but they weren’t very good and after the mandatory good try they took the first chance to drop out. Now they are grown and on their own and it is interesting. Our son is lean and muscled and a good runner and hiker, all interests he developed on his own in college and later. One daughter is strictly a couch potato but the other one works out every day and is crazy fit and actually supervises the student academics of the division one athletes for a large university. All three paid their own way to advanced degrees in medicine, engineering and academics. My own opinion is that youth sports are strictly optional and that there are plenty of other avenues for kids to learn to work together with others.


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