How to handle the cost of club sports

A parent's perspective

For young athletes, club sports build important life skills like teamwork and responsibility, while providing exposure to top competition. For parents, however, club sports can be a costly and a time-consuming burden. One veteran club sports parent discusses what it takes to keep your kids in the game – while keeping yourself sane.

As a mom in a two-parent, full-time working family, managing multiple club sports had a huge impact on my life. It meant traveling almost every weekend and living out of an overnight bag. We would get home on Sunday night and there would be piles of laundry and no food in the refrigerator. It took a great deal of teamwork as a couple to cover all the bases at home. I was tired all the time.

As most parents know, there are a lot of costs that come with club sports. Travel costs, specialized training, uniforms, mid-game snacks and post-game meals, end of season celebrations, you name it. But the biggest costs were always the tournament fees. Some local tournaments cost only $250 per team, but the big ones in other states were up to $1,000. The parents would often have to buck up for additional tournament fees. That is where extra funds were especially needed.

We sold sponsorships and did car washes; but honestly, with a 60-hour a week corporate job, I didn't have time for all that and often just opted to write a check.

My family participated in some fundraising. We sold sponsorships and did car washes; but honestly, with a 60-hour a week corporate job, I didn't have time for all that and often just opted to write a check. For the families that have means, fundraising is not as much of an issue. They will just pay whatever is necessary to keep their kids participating. But where does that leave the families that cannot afford the staggering cost of club sports for their kids?

Our family was incredibly fortunate that money never had to be a factor in whether we said yes or no to an activity for our kids. However, it was certainly a factor for some of my kids’ teammates. We took a few of the kids under our wing and paid for their weekend expenses when the parents were unable to pay. Fundraising could have really helped some of these families with "scholarships" so that the other parents and coaches wouldn’t have had to pick up the slack.

My daughter (pictured with her club softball team, middle row, second from left) was able to travel to this tournament in Colorado because of extra fundraising efforts

My husband and I didn't mind doing this, and honestly it was a good example to our kids that you do what you can to help others. Camaraderie was a very important part of each team that we were a part of through the years. It inspired me to be an involved and dedicated parent. A solid positive attitude makes for a happy group. Conversely, negativity becomes a slippery slope, and unfortunately, the frustrations of fundraising sometimes feed into that negativity. 

There's nothing that drives a wedge more with a group of parents than three parents showing up for the 5-hour car wash on a Saturday and none of the other parents are there. That’s when you know you need a better fundraising solution. 

Supporting kids in playing club sports is important, regardless of financial situation. It is a terrific all-around learning experience – not only to improve the skill of playing the sport, but also in learning to get along with teammates and coaches, and to build conflict resolution skills. It teaches goal setting, social skills, and how to be a strong teammate. Each of my kids gained these skills that they continue to use in their lives each day.

Supporting kids in playing club sports is important, regardless of financial situation.

Every child deserves to have the opportunity to experience what it is like to travel, have nice equipment and facilities, receive specialized training in a team environment, and develop these essential life skills. Funding should never be a barrier to those opportunities.

Learn how Snap! Raise can reduce the burden of fundraising for your club organization and help keep every athlete in the game.

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Karen Heric is a mother of three and worked full-time in TV & Radio Sales Management while raising her kids. Each of them was involved in school and club sports spanning over 10 years. She now works as a Sales Consultant for Snap! Advance serving the Non-Profit sector.

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