Children’s sports are not only a great way to keep them physically active, it is an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons about teamwork, respect, fairness and hard work. Unfortunately, the cost of participating in these sports can be prohibitively expensive.
According to a CIBC poll:
- One third of Canadian children don’t play an organized sport because of the cost associated with it
- On average, parents spend just under $1000 a year on children’s sports per child
- 82 per cent of Canadians know someone personally who is unable to play a sport because of the costs
- 91 per cent of Canadians agree that participation in sports teaches children important life skills
- The biggest barriers are the cost of enrollment fees and equipment, according to respondents
- According to this survey, soccer (38 per cent) is currently the most commonly played sport by kids at 38 per cent, followed by swimming and basketball at 22 and 18 per cent respectively.
“There is no denying the social, emotional and physical value associated with enrolling your children in organized sports. However, with the high costs associated with organized sports, parents are faced with hard decisions. That means they are either turning to debt or neglecting other areas of their budget, like savings,” says Jeff Schwartz
“Like other areas of your household spending, there are strategies to use to help defray these costs. You have to be creative and proactive in seeking out ways to be on the team and keep your budget intact.”
Support in your community
There are a number of organizations that recognize both the value and the costs associated with participating in sports and run programs to help families who need assistance to play. Canadian Tire has the Jumpstart Program. They offer assistance for families in need with kids aged 4 to help defray costs of with registration fees, equipment and/or transportation. National organization KidSport offers similar support with team fees and equipment costs. They also offer funded placements in sports camps and on sports teams.
Keep equipment costs down
One of the most expensive parts of playing a sport is the equipment. Depending on the sport, buying used is definitely the way to go, especially if your child is still growing.
You can then trade in your equipment as your child grows to keep the savings going.
Look for other ways to save
There are other costs associated with playing sports, like after practice snacks, team dinners and travel. Shave those costs down by packing your own snacks and avoiding the canteen. Instead of hitting a restaurant, organize a potluck for team dinners and get together. Share the cost of gas and travel by carpooling.
Invest in fitness
Being fit doesn’t have to be expensive. If there simply isn’t room in the budget, you can still invest in your child’s physical fitness. Engage in active play with them on a regular basis, whether it’s playing hide and seek or throwing a ball around at the park. Take a family bike ride, or a walk through the woods.