Any parent knows that kids are expensive, but sometimes they can be even more of a strain on your budget than usual. Once your athletic kid gets close to middle school, you’ll likely face the “club sports” question: Should you encourage your child to join a more competitive—and more expensive—traveling team?
Club teams are usually quite selective and often require kids to try out in order to participate. The teams may be privately run, rather than affiliated with a school or community recreation league. And, depending on the sport, club fees, equipment, and travel expenses (including out-of-town or out-of-state tournaments) can run families several thousand dollars per year per child.
Many families argue that as sports get more competitive, kids who want to join their high school teams need experience playing in a more intense atmosphere by sixth or seventh grade. These days, that can be true. And if your child is truly a superstar in his or her sport, he or she may be ready for the greater challenge of an elite team.
However, coaches caution that getting a slot on a high school team doesn’t in any way ensure that your child will end up playing college sports or go from there to the professional leagues. So let’s be honest: For most families, club sports are a choice, not an investment in the future.
Your best bet is to treat club sports like any other extracurricular activity you choose for your child. Does he or she love it? Can your family budget afford it? Are you willing to trade other financial goals (like regular vacations or having the latest model of car) to pay for your child’s sports involvement? When it comes down to it, deciding to put money into kids’ sports is a decision that only you can make.
Ways to save money on your child’s sporting hobby
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