The real cost for kids to participate in sports

Welcome to September! For both parents and their children, returning to school feels like the beginning of a new year. As summer begins to slowly end and children are finishing up all their outdoor summer sports, parents are already contemplating which sports to register their children in for the colder seasons. Unfortunately, there always seems to be one major barrier to sport participation, the cost.

Let’s review three of Canada’s most popular organized sports for kids and determine the average cost for a child to participate:

  1. Hockey: Oh, our national past time. As Canadians, we love hockey and many children visualize becoming the next Sidney Crosby or Cassie Campbell. In 2014, the Canadian Youth Sport Report found that 531,000 youths (aged 3-17) are registered in hockey, making it the 4th most popular activity in Canada for children. However, out of all sports surveyed, hockey was found as the 2nd most expensive sport in Canada to play – averaging at a cost of $1666 a year for parents.
  2. Swimming: Compared to hockey, swimming is the most popular organized sport for children in Canada with over a million participants. The cost to compete in swimming is $406 annually for a child. Over a $1000 price differential for parents when choosing organized sport.
  3. Basketball: An increasingly popular sport in Canada is basketball. The increased numbers and coverage of Canadian basketball players in the NBA has exceeded the growth rate of both soccer and hockey. The average cost to participate in basketball is roughly $500 dollars a year, making it a little more affordable for parents.

The overall average cost for a child to participate in most organized sports annually is under $1000. However, a number of parents can spend between $5,000 up to $10,000 for their children to compete in competitive leagues or team. The cost is not so surprising once you add up enrollment fees, playing equipment, and travelling tournament costs. Still, this can be hard to swallow for most parents!

The high price tag associated with organized sport can feel inevitable. Children dream of becoming professional athletes and parents are forced to financially bend to get them there.

Unfortunately, not all costs can be avoided, but here are three tips to ease some of the financial burden:

  1. Re-cycle Equipment: Equipment fees are one of the largest expenses in organized sport. If you have a young child, try to purchase used equipment and sell your old equipment at the end of the season. Most likely, your child will outgrow those new skates, so try to avoid spending large amounts of money for the latest, shiniest pair.
  2. Take one season off (in the year): This allows your child to have some time off, physically and mentally to rest their body, and it also limits the amount of spending on sport.
  3. Cut unnecessary expenses: Cut trips to fast-food restaurants, share transportation/travelling costs with other parents, and bringing your own water bottle to practice can save you a few bucks! In many ways, it’s about getting creative with your budget.

For more cost cutting measures, this link could be a great resource to learn more!