New Study Says You Should Spend Less on Kids Sports. Here's How.


Good news: spending less on your kid’s sports will actually make him better at them.

That’s according to a Utah State University study just reported by the Wall Street Journal, which contends the more you spend on your children’s sports, the less they’ll enjoy them, and the less successful they’ll be at them.

Researcher and former pro-football player Travis Dorsh explains, “When parental sports spending goes up, it increases the likelihood either the child will feel pressure or that the parent will exert it.” And other experts agree, with the Director of Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports concurring, “the more parents do, the more they expect a return on their investment.”

So now that you’ve got a guilt-free justification for trying to save on your kid’s sports, how do you go about actually doing it?

1. Choose Wisely

Not all children’s sports are created equal, and some are much more expensive than others – just check out this TurboTax infographic breakdown. While the three most expensive youth sports are somewhat predictable (football, baseball, and hockey), the three least expensive might surprise you. Swimming and diving clocks in as the single cheapest despite pool rates, so… go ahead, toss your kid in the water!

2. Make Them Earn the Nice Equipment

Kids try new sports like adults test drive new cars: it can take a few different tries until they really settle into something. Which is fine, but it also means you shouldn’t go out and splurge on the latest model football pads when your child may end up playing soccer after one set of downs as an offensive linemen. Try renting or looking for hand-me-downs first.

3. Make Them Earn the Nice Leagues

…ditto for league memberships. Start them off in an inexpensive rec league, and make sure this is really their sport before shelling out money for select teams, traveling teams, etc.

4. Get Involved

Parent participation in a league means they’ll often waive fees (or even pay you). So if you know a sport well, try reffing and coaching. And if you don’t… try reffing or coaching little kids! Creating drills for five-year old soccer plays is somewhat less technical than creating them for the under-18 squad.

5. Carpool

Youth sports have costs beyond the purely monetary. Namely, a hell of a lot of schlepping. So make some friends on the sidelines and organize a carpool.

6. Just say “no” to team photos

Take pictures of your kids playing sports, just don’t pay for pictures of your kids playing sports. Official team photos can be cheesy, and your little athlete would probably prefer an action shot anyway. Besides, what else is there really to do on the sidelines anyway?

7. Seek Out Sponsorships or Scholarships

Ok, so you paying more can have an adverse effect on your kid’s sports career, but that doesn’t mean someone else paying more will. If your child really is that good, consider putting her up for a sports scholarship, whether through a local program or a national organization like the Women’s Sports Foundation.

What's the most you've ever spent on your children's sports?

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