Sports spending leaving some budgets short-handed
At the risk of sounding overly pessimistic, the chances of your child making the NHL or becoming a professional athlete are very slim. Like really, really slim.
When it comes to hockey, the statistics of success vary, but they go something like this:
- Hockey great Bobby Orr ran an extensive PR campaign and programming promoting youth hockey based on the love of the game. He says that 0.057 percent of all kids playing hockey has a chance of playing even one game in the NHL
- Hockey News writer Ken Campbell, author of “Selling the Dream”, says that 1 percent of players will play a single game in the NHL
- According to the CBC, a 2011 poll showed that the average family spends $1500 a year on hockey at the lower levels, an expense that can grow to $8,000- $15,000 to play AAA.
Did that just put a chill in your hot chocolate?
So why is your child playing hockey or their selected sport? And more importantly, how much are you paying for sports and how are you paying for it?
“There are numerous benefits for children in participating in organized sport. They learn the value of teamwork, respect, self-discipline, and the relationship between hard work and reward. These are all excellent life skills that will help them later in life,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director at the Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“The problem is that more and more Canadian parents are paying hefty sums to be in these sports, often going into debt or using money that should be earmarked for other areas of their budget, like saving.”
Get the (financial) puck across the red line
There are many costs associated with raising children, but hockey (or your sport of choice) needs its own line item in the budget. And you need to anticipate all of the costs around participation- not just the registration. Extra costs, like equipment, off ice uniforms, team gear, travel and tournaments can add up quickly.
The scholarship argument
Most parents readily agree that their child is not headed for professional athlete status, but many contend that their skilled child has a real shot at securing a scholarship. Again, the odds are not in your favour. According to Ken Campbell, there are 822 fulltime hockey scholarships available to Canadians at American Universities. To put that in context, that works out to 0.7 percent of players landing a scholarship at a North American university.
Can you imagine if you took even a portion of what you spent on hockey and socked it away into savings for university or college? That’s a scholarship of a different kind!
Recognize the role of peer pressure
We think that peer pressure mainly affects children. Grownups: don’t underestimate the pressure placed on your wallet by another hockey parent posturing about their child’s greatness. Take the same advice you’d give to your own child in the same situation – keep your mind on your own “game.” Know who you are, and why you are participating – and how that figures into your family budget.
It’s hard to save money on registration costs for hockey, but there are ways to save on the extraneous, “sneaky” costs.
Trade in your equipment at sports consignment stores and get used equipment, rather than paying full price for new gear. Carpool to practices and save on gas money. Pack snacks in your child’s bag along with their equipment to avoid the canteen at the end of the game/practice. At tournaments, bunk up with another family to save on hotel costs. Bring your coolers and crock pots to have quick, healthy meals in your rooms, and save money.
It’s worth it
Remember that sports and extra-curricular activities can offer a priceless boost to your child’s life and it’s an investment that will pay dividends in the years to come. Just make sure your sport or activity of choice fits within your budget and always look for ways to save.
Are you having trouble balancing your family budget? Do you want to give your child the opportunity to play sports, but can’t afford it, or are using debt to fund it? We can help. Call one of our trained credit counsellors or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get started.