Organized Sports Don’t Have to Be Out of Reach

youth-sportsHas all the recent Olympic activity lit the fire of the inner athlete in your child? Being fit and active is commendable (and a health necessity) at any age, but the reality is- if your child wants to get their exercise through organized sports, the costs can be prohibitive.

Organized sports, beyond the fitness aspect, provide great social skills and life lessons (team building, winning/losing, hard work and commitment). Here are some ideas to help mitigate the costs, but still reap the benefits of organized sports.

Pick your Sport

While they always carry a price tag, some organized sports are far more expensive than others. Hockey and figure skating, for instance, tend to be more expensive than soccer for parents (at comparable levels), simply because equipment needs and ice is more expensive to use than field time. Dance and gymnastics can be pretty pricey as well.

Try to think outside the box as well and look at sports like ball hockey (far less expensive than its ice-based counterpart with much of the same action) or running.

Bottom line: Before you sign junior up, know the costs for the whole season (that includes equipment, team and/or registration fees, coach fees, competitions or tournaments).

Second-Hand Wonders               

You should approach your equipment needs much in the same way you do your growing child’s clothing needs.  Given the rate at which clothing is shed and replaced, second-hand is the way to go- as is true when it comes to most hockey equipment.

I frequently use sporting good consignment stores, and trade in equipment to move up to the next size. It is far cheaper than buying new, and you also get the added discount of applying your trade-in value. Be careful with things like helmets though- ensure they fit well and are not damaged.

Lots of big-box sports stores offer “trade-in” programs for junior equipment, on things like skates and skis, but are not always widely advertised. Ask them. You might be pleased with the deal you get.

Many sporting associations will host “exchanges” at the beginning of the season to allow parents to get rid of their old equipment in favour of the new at a lower price than marching into the store (ski swaps, bike exchanges, hockey equipment or used skates).

Try Before you Buy

The thing with kids- they are very enthusiastic at the outset of joining a team or an athletic club, but sometimes as they get into the season, they are less enthusiastic. Unfortunately, you may have regrettably invested a large sum of money into equipment.

If your child is new to a sport or to a position that requires specialized equipment, seek out rentals. Contact your association as well. They may have extra equipment to lend out so folks can try before they buy.

Available Help

No question organized sports are expensive, and frankly are out of reach for many kids. There are now numerous not-for-profit organizations that help fund junior athletes so that they can participate in and benefit from the fruits of organized sport.

Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart is a program that helps disadvantaged kid by covering costs associated with registration, equipment and/or transportation. They provide their funding through an application process.

In the true spirit of sportsmanship, many associations or individual teams will sponsor kids who are financially disadvantaged, and it is worth inquiring.