With 2 active boys, sports will one day be a giant part of our lives. It’s just how it goes. I am not the mom who really cares what they want to do. Gymnastics? Great, let’s go. Badminton? Sure, let’s do it. Football? Probably not, I’ve seen Concussion.
Really though, I just want them to run around, get energy out, learn how to work in a team, and have someone else tell them what to do for a few hours a week. And if they aren’t into it? We don’t have to do it next year.
As the youngest of three girls, we always had running around to do. And by “we” I mean my mom. Piano lessons, girl scouts, basketball, 4-H, softball, field hockey, etc, etc. We fit it in and all got fed dinner and never felt like we were pressured or that we were stressed out from too much activity. And nothing was terribly expensive for us to participate in. (My mom may have a different opinion about splurging for Air Jordans for me every year.)
This spring, the boys wanted to play lacrosse again. Last years clinic was fun and they enjoyed the game and the friends they got to see so it was a no brainer. Until I saw the registration costs. At the time Bo was 4 and Sam about to turn 7. Doing the math in my head, knowing Sam needed full equipment this year, it was going to cost us around $400 to play. And that was a really hard pill to swallow for a 4 and 7 year old. (It ended up totalling around $435 after all equipment was purchased.)
A few weeks after they started, I was talking to a friend who has boys the same exact age, but they live in a different area one county away. She brought up how expensive it was for her 2 boys to play baseball this year. Guess how much? $400. $200 per kid to play parks and rec tee ball. I nearly spat out my coffee.
I get that sports can lead to scholarships and kids like playing and that there are a ton of benefits to kids playing sports. I’m on board. Kind of. Because when I think about the stretch it is for us to play lacrosse, which is just a few months long, and think about those out there who aren’t playing because it’s too damn expensive, I don’t get it. Should a parent have to choose between the heating bill and elbow pads? Should a kid be left out because of costs? We are already thinking about fall soccer registrations, and that will include new cleats, and hopefully nothing else. And then there’s basketball in the winter, new shoes, probably new shorts because they are going to grow 100″ before then. All that for us times 2 (and in a few years times 3). Do we need to start a special savings account for our kids future sports leagues?
Things really are different than they used to be. High school sports when I was playing were free. Yes, I needed a field hockey stick and cleats, but not every year. And there was no fee my parents had to pay for me to play a high school sport. Now? Everything costs money. And add in several fundraisers on top of it per sports season and again it’s an astronomical number.
Maybe all this money spent is the reason parents have also changed. More aggression on the sidelines. More pressure on their kids. More cursing at referees and coaches. Maybe it was a huge sacrifice for them to pay for their children to play and the stress of that is translated into being the asshole on the bleachers? That’s probably a stretch, but it doesn’t seem completely out of the question. Does it?