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Rounding Up The Usual Suspects: The Top Five Most Expensive Youth Sports

If you are a parent with a kid playing sports, you know how expensive sports are these days. According to a 2013 TurboTax study, parents pay $671 per year for their child (ages 6 to 16) to participate in sports, and the cost seems to go up every year.

The expenses of sports are seemingly never-ending: equipment needs to be replaced, new uniforms purchased, and what feels like endless checks written for everything from travel expenses to replacing water bottles that get left behind on fields. And the newest checkbook drain for parents, school spirit-wear, is a tough one to say no to, when it raises money for the school itself!

There are many hidden and unanticipated expenses for kids' sports as well, which seem to come out of nowhere and are hard to budget. Where does the money come from to attend an overnight tournament once a child has made the travel soccer team? What about the $40 per week spent on ice cream and dinners out with the other team parents.  How about the cost of gas for driving to tournaments that, many times, are over an hour from home! Neeless to say all hese costs do add up.

These are the unanticipated, hidden costs that can undermine a team or a family's budget, leaving parents (and coaches) concerned about how to afford children's sports next year.

So do ever wonder which sports are digging the deepest holes into parents' pockets? 

Here are the top five most expensive sports, just based on equipment and gear alone for just one child, and not including the unseen and/or unanticipated expenses:

  1.  Ice hockey. Hockey parents won't be surprised that their sport ranks number one, averaging $595* for basic equipment costs. The added expenses are due to the amount of protection players need to prevent injuries such as a helmet ($110), shoulder pads ($80), and elbow pads ($80).
  2. Boys' lacrosse: One of the fastest growing sports is also one of the most expensive. On average, a set of lax gear costs $565 with the helmet being the most expensive piece of equipment at $200.Top Five Most Expensive Sports pie chart
  3. Football.  Like ice hockey and lacrosse, football is another expensive sport to play, mostly because of the same reason: it requires a lot of protective equipment. The average cost for equipping a youth football player is around $558, with most of that being for a helmet (around $200, but costing as much as $350) and for shoulder pads ($200).
  4. Baseball.  Even though baseball does not require a lot of protective equipment, bats can be very pricey. The average cost for baseball gear is $385 with a bat costing around $230.
  5. Field hockey. Last but not least, field hockey is the fifth most expensive sport on the list at $275. Field hockey sticks are among the priciest ($90) and in recent years goggles ($50) have become required for additional protection.

Involve kids in fundraisers 

Celena McAfee, Manager of Pepper Fundraising, says one way programs and parents can meet the ever rising cost of sports is getting kids involved in fundraising. "We remove the feeling that raising money is a chore - we make it fun, by recommending that the sports team come up with a creative theme and promote the idea that it is beneficial for adults and children to work together."

McAffee offers the following fundraising tips for parents:

  • Make sure your team gets the money! Many fundraising organizations take a lot of your profits, in return for helping you set up the fundraiser.
  • Don't be shy... promote promote promote! Tell the story in a short, sweet paragraph about what the funds are being used for.
  • Encourage your children to run their own fundraisers (with adult supervision). Learning to manage money at a young age encourages financial capabilities in children and teaches them the value of a dollar. 
  • Look for an organization that provides hands-on help, one that will actually get on the phone with you, to talk you through the process. 
  • Make sure your chosen fundraiser handles the shipments for you. Free shipping is always a welcome added bonus!

Since less than 2% of high school athletes obtain college athletic scholarship, we know that most children play sports for fun, competition, and healthy activity. Now its time to take a hard look at the costs and find ways to make that part of the fun as well.

*This cost data has been collected and averaged from three different leading sporting good companies by the experts at Pepper Fundraising.

For more information about Pepper Fundraising or how to starting your own fundraiser, visit www.pepperfundraising.com or call 866-940-8748.

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