The High Price To Play

Sports are getting more expensive, but at what cost?


Created by Mason Faulkner

Families have been weighing the balance between the pros of playing sports, and the financial cost that families have to pay in ording for their child to participate. Most sports cost around $1,000 to $3,000 to play, while sports like ice hockey and baseball can cost up to $12,000 a year.

Youth sports are a great way for kids to build character, stay in shape, and build relationships. High school sports extend youth sports by having higher competitiveness to them. The downside to youth and high school sports is the expense. The amount of money that goes into youth sports is a lot, and it’s continuing to increase. The youth sports industry is worth nearly $19 billion and is generating more money than the NFL worth around $11 billion.

Factoring in the cost of equipment, coaching, training, uniforms, and travel costs, the price of sports per year adds up very quickly. On average, youth and high school sports parents spend around $500 to $1000 a month on their children. The goal for a lot of kids playing youth sports is to eventually make an income playing and eventually making a profit. Participation in sports has increased steadily in schools, but of the families with children between 12-17, only 42% participated in sporting activities. 14% out of the 58% who did not participate in sports cited their reasons for not participating being high participation fees. Research shows that youth sports improve a child’s social interactions, boost their confidence, and enhance their overall health.

Studies also show that students who participate in youth sports tend to have higher GPAs and test scores. Youth sports are also linked to lower dropout rates and crime rates. They have also been proven to help students get higher-paying jobs in school. So, if the research suggests that students’ lives are improved overall, why are sports so expensive?

There are three big reasons why youth sports are so expensive.

-The cost of uniforms and access to fields and courts.

Uniforms a necessary in sports–they keep the team looking good. It keeps them looking official and competitive while letting the teams have their own sense of style. The more style and more official you want your uniform to look, the more you will have to pay. The cost to use fields and courts also adds up. You need to pay the owners in order to have access to them.

-The cost of equipment can add up

Depending on which sport you play, the cost of your equipment will vary. Sports like swimming are considered the least expensive because the equipment you need is minimal and fairly inexpensive. But for sports like ice hockey, where pads alone can cost hundreds of dollars, and sticks and skates can cost thousands of dollars, you are paying a lot in equipment fees. Also, if you start playing at a young age, you will grow out of most of your equipment. This means you will have to buy everything all over again. The longer you play, the more you have to apply for equipment. And as the technology for equipment gets better, the cost gets higher.

-The coaches and referees need to be paid.

Finally, several officials and professionals need to be paid for youth sports to happen. Youth sports leagues have athletic directors and staff, as well as officials to keep the games fair. There are also cleaning costs that teams and leagues need to pay.


I’ve had my own experiences playing and paying for youth sports. I started playing ice hockey when I was nine years old and played until I was 17. Eight years of Ice hockey is really expensive. I had to change my gear about four different times. Skates are the most expensive to replace. The larger your foot gets the more expensive the skate. Also, over the years, technology has gotten better, so things have gotten more expensive. Sticks are also very expensive. The reason is, sometimes your sticks break while playing. You can sometime replace your stick five times a year. On average, they can cost $100 to $500 per stick.

The cost to play can be very expensive. Depending on how competitive the team you play for, the more money you have to put in. At Boulder Hockey Club, the team I used to play for, the cost for registration is from $2200 to $3200. That’s just so you can play for the team. It does not cover travel and uniform expenses.

When I played, we typically registered for around five in-state tournaments and went on one out-of-state tournament. The way tournaments work is there is a cost to play in it, and it is divided among each player on the team. The sentence cost of some of these tournaments can be thousands of dollars as well. Traveling out of state, you have to buy your own plane tickets and hotel room. If you are traveling with your immediate family, you have to pay for everything for them.

Overall, youth sports can take a toll on families, just because of how much they are. Around the world, there should be more fundraising for families who may not be able to pay for youth sports. The price to play shouldn’t determine if you can play or not. Fundraising as a team or league can improve leadership skills, and real-life skills. It helps increase exposure so players who can’t afford to play don’t have to worry about the cost. The lack of funding should not be the reason you can’t play, and hopefully, leagues starts to realize they could be doing more to help families afford youth sports.