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Youth Sports
Old 04-27-2016, 02:59 PM   #1
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Youth Sports

As many may know, youth sports in today's day and age has really gotten out of control. I have a child who is really into soccer and plays on a "premier" team that does a fair amount of travel. This of course significantly raises the cost of participation.

We are approaching tryout season for the next year and I'm having serious doubts as to whether we should continue to support his development at this level. As background, this past year cost us just over $4K all in (fees, equipment, travel, etc). This may not be a lot for some families, but for us it is pretty significant. Not to mention the time investment.

A part of me feels guilty about not supporting him 100% no matter what the cost. Truth is, we can afford it, I just have problems with it given my "frugal" ways and my own personal upbringing where my parents didn't pay anything for my sport endeavors, of which, there were many.

I know this is a first world problem and mostly for the mid- to upper middle class, but I guess I'm just needing to vent as I feel my emotional arm is being twisted on this matter.
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Old 04-27-2016, 03:29 PM   #2
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Could look for another club that doesn't involve as much travel but unfortunately, he would probably prefer to stay with his friends. And you may question the fact that the travel takes you away from the rest of the family and their activities, assuming you don't drag them along on all the trips. Maybe the fairness to the rest of the family would be a way to justify to the child that the travel needs to be cut back.

I had two boys go through the soccer system and we pretty much we stayed with a club that typically traveled within a 100 mile radius and seldom had overnight trips. As a team, they were usually not competitive playing at a premier level.
For girls, the team becomes their social life has been my observation, less so with boys.
But it also depends on their dreams. In our area, most of the high school players with good teams are club players who gained the ball control skills needed to play at a high level by playing club, the non-club players warm the bench a lot.

My older son started with a club that was year round but just above rec league play (he played U10 for three years!) moved on to another club to pick up better foot skills and stayed with them until HS. At HS tryouts, he moved to varsity starter his sophmore year despite being the smallest kid on the team. My younger son didn't get into soccer until 7th grade, that and his small size has meant he's always good enough to make the HS JV and varsity teams (it's a large school and they do cut kids) but not to get a lot of playing time. In his club, he's not on the premier team but regularly gets called if they are short subs, keeps bouncing between the two levels. Will spend this Sunday 130 miles away, three games, leave at 7am,back at 9 or 10pm.

Good luck! It's quite a commitment by the whole family.
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:12 PM   #3
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I completely understand. DS played on a competitive club team but several levels below premier. (FWIW, he's now 24 and plays in recreational adult leagues - his small-side co-ed team won the title in their league on Monday. So it really is something that can be good for fitness as well as social opportunities well past college.)

Many of the kids I saw on premier teams were there because their parents pushed them to that level and the kids would have been perfectly happy dropping back a level. A few were either gifted to begin with or incredibly hard workers on their own who were really motivated to be at that top level. If your son is the latter, and you can afford it, I would tend to support him. Perhaps he could earn some portion of the cost to give him some share of the financial commitment (maybe buy his own uniforms or shoes with his earnings). DS was a referee starting at age 12 which was also great leadership experience.
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:18 PM   #4
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How good is your son? If he has potential and desire, he could get opportunities in higher education (I.e., sports scholarships). You could then look at funds spent now as an investment in his future education.


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Old 04-27-2016, 04:27 PM   #5
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my dad never missed a single football, baseball or basketball game I ever played...and he was w*rking


when it's all said and done, do you think you'd regret getting cheap on him or would you be glad you paid the $4K and gave him time support?
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:30 PM   #6
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How good is your son? If he has potential and desire, he could get opportunities in higher education (I.e., sports scholarships). You could then look at funds spent now as an investment in his future education.
Soccer scholarships for men are fairly rare. My son attended a Big Ten university and went through the experience of having the mens' varsity soccer team changed to a "club team" and the few scholarships that existed eliminated.

OTOH a scholarship is always possible. Some urban universities that do not have football teams still have some soccer scholarships for men but things changed a lot with Title 9.
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:46 PM   #7
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As many may know, youth sports in today's day and age has really gotten out of control.
Youth sports are only as out of control as you allow them to be. You and your son have some tough decisions ahead of you.

When my son, who played on the local park district traveling team, was recruited to play on a private premier club team, he decided to stick with his local buddies. His team practiced locally and traveled around northern Illinois for games but usually no more than an hour or so from home. There was one long-weekend out-of-state tournament. The private club team would have involved daily practice almost an hour away, more extensive travel and several out-of-state trips. I sighed relief when he stayed local! I'm not sure what I would have said if he had strongly preferred to go with the private club. In our case it would have been a concern about logistics and time more than the expense.

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I have a child who is really into soccer and plays on a "premier" team
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Truth is, we can afford it, I just have problems with it given my "frugal" ways
The fact that your son "is really into soccer" and "you can afford it" but love the good feelings and warm vibes of being frugal makes the decision really interesting. When I read about folks here on the board who are seemingly obsessed with LBYM and frugality, I cringe when I hear them talk about not doing things they'd really love to do because they loved the feeling of being frugal even more, I sometimes cringe a bit. You might want to be sure you're keeping priorities in order and living a balanced life.

Good luck!
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:53 PM   #8
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Scholarships are definitely not on the radar. Not because he won't be good enough, but rather I'm not a big supporter of going to college to play sports. It becomes more of commitment to the team and and less of a commitment to academics. Particularly if you're on scholarships.

We travel over 300 miles to some games which I find ridiculous, but wouldn't express that opinion to the club owner as this is how he makes his living. Pushing soccer talent in hopes the US will someday be truly competitive on the international stage. From where I sit, that is what all this travel for competition is about. I live in a metro with just shy of 1 Mil population. Hard to believe we can't find competitive teams much closer.

Last year I attempted to jump ship from premier and he tried out for a select club that would have cut costs by 70%. At the end of the tryout, the coach pulled me aside and said my son was clearly above this level and should stay with his premier team if he had hopes of playing HS varsity. Not that I don't want him to play HS, but I don't want to pay $20K (4 years of premier) so that he potentially can. Regardless, last year we chose to stay with the premier club and I suspect there's a good chance I'll bite the bullet again.
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Old 04-27-2016, 05:23 PM   #9
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Those are good points about the cost and the inconvenience and where the participation will lead, but you probably considered them when you and your son decided he could start playing on this team. If nothing has changed, why pull him off? Personally I would leave him on the team as long as he is enjoying it.It is part of his identity now. Having a sport he can play in high school if he wants to will make those years a lot of fun for all of you and again will be part of his identity and his social life.

We had to pull our two kids off a competitive team just for one season and twenty plus years later I still regret it. They picked up where they had left off but it was still a mistake.
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:46 PM   #10
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when it's all said and done, do you think you'd regret getting cheap on him or would you be glad you paid the $4K and gave him time support?
+1

Why punish him because of your frugality?
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:03 AM   #11
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My DD was pushing to get to a higher level club, but I refused since she does not practice and her ball skills are pretty bad... she gets by on speed and the skill she does have...

However, in rec league she is great... 4 seasons ago she scored 30 goals in 10 games... the bottom 4 teams combined did not score that many...

Now she is being recruited by a select team... I will allow her to go since it is not as costly as the other club team (they wanted $3000 a year just for them).... but if she does not put the effort into it she will only be there one year... the coaches see the potential in her, they just have to bring it out... I do not want to take this away from her if she is willing to do the work...
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Old 04-28-2016, 05:15 AM   #12
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Scholarships are definitely not on the radar. Not because he won't be good enough, but rather I'm not a big supporter of going to college to play sports. It becomes more of commitment to the team and and less of a commitment to academics. Particularly if you're on scholarships.
+1
Athletic scholarships are not free money at all. Their cost is the time that they take away from all the other things you could do with your time at college (studying, socializing, ...)

My kids stuck with the rec and local-travel semi-competitive club. They developed enough skills to play varsity in HS, but were nowhere nearly as skilled as the kids from the high level clubs. That was fine with them and fine with me. I spent 11 years variously as assistant coach, coach, referee, equipment manager, VP, and president of that soccer club. I found it quite rewarding to be a big part of organizing soccer for over 1000 kids in our community. We did our best to keep the focus on the fun, exercise, teamwork, friendship....but of course competitive juices flow and it can start to get out of hand sometimes.
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Old 04-28-2016, 08:11 AM   #13
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The problem I have with most youth select sport teams is that the parents are out of control. The money never bothered me much.
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Old 04-28-2016, 08:41 AM   #14
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My dear grandson (DGS) plays in a spring and fall soccer league which ties up pretty much every weekend during the seasons. I love watching him play and enjoy the games immensely. Add to this practice two nights a week and sometimes three if there is a special clinic going on and it keeps the parents busy. The cost is reasonable and I feel it is money and time well spent as opposed to letting the littles one rot their brains using iPads. They get a good amount of exercise and learn sportsmanship as well as the experience of winning and losing. All of the parents with few exceptions are very good sports and we applaud good plays by both teams.
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Old 04-28-2016, 08:42 AM   #15
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The problem I have with most youth select sport teams is that the parents are out of control. The money never bothered me much.
This.

We pretty much stick to the rec level teams. Kids are hanging with friends and getting exercise. They are pushing to win. If they want to compete at a competitive level they can try out for high school teams.

A friend's daughter just got a full ride scholarship to a good school for women's volleyball. She played on the high school team.
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:20 AM   #16
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I wouldn't count on soccer athletic scholarships, vast majority are partial scholarships. I know a local Div II men's soccer coach (private college)and he gets the equivalent of 9 scholarship positions and he spreads it out among 20+ players. Usually enough to bring the tuition down to what the state schools charge.
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:57 AM   #17
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I can remember spending all weekend going from soccer to horseback riding to ice hockey. Sunday night I was looking forward to going back to work so I could relax!
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Old 04-28-2016, 10:22 AM   #18
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Spending $4K on an only son is not out of the question IMO providing that is his passion.. Having 6 kids would be a real strain on the budget, I think. I can relate a bit, even though DS was never on a club team. My DS started in the bumble-bee park district teams as an 8 yr old. He played on those leagues for a few years and I even coached a couple of those years. Eventually he went on to a park district travelling team. At 15, he was playing games and ref'ing other games. Played in HS soccer. Played indoor soccer in the winter. He went on to college and played on dorm teams. As an adult, he stayed active playing in co-ed games. Currently at 38, he is teaching and is head coach of both the Girls and the Boys HS teams and loving it. I don't think this would have happened if we had not supported his playing thru the early years.

4K/yr is a lot of money. I get it. I don't think I would spend that on myself for a game (or hobby). If you can afford it, as you say you can, and can afford the time, then go ahead. So long as it is not at the exclusion of other activities and studies. The money is one thing, but it is the time you invest in your kids that will pay back 10-fold.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:19 AM   #19
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A couple points:

1) I coached travel soccer for a few years. As head coach I spent everything the other parents spent and some more. The league never gave us enough money for all the supplies we really needed, little prizes for the kids (they were young), etc.... However, by far, the reason we kept playing is not for the level of competition but because my daughter LOVED staying at hotels with her teammates for the out of town tournaments. Several years later she still talks about the pool parties at the hotels. There is no reasonable expense I wouldn't spend to create great memories for my kids. Rec teams do not typically get that benefit.

2) As to college scholarships forget the money. The key is: priority to register for classes (this is HUGE at state/UC schools out here in California at least), tutors, and monitored study hours. If the schools pay 10-20% toward tuition that's a perk but the other things are the real benefit for athletic scholarships for most families in my opinion.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:47 AM   #20
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4K/yr is a lot of money. I get it. I don't think I would spend that on myself for a game (or hobby).
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