Sports for Spendthrifts
In this video-game era, there is growing awareness of the necessity for children to remain physically active. While there are a number of lost-cost or free activities (i.e. playing in the park, playing simple games like hide and go seek or tag) that provide physical activity, there is merit to organized sports. The downside though, is that organized sports can be very expensive. There are ways to be thrifty or to minimize the cost.
Pros & Cons of Organized Sport
Scheduled exercise is one obvious benefit of an organized sport or activity. There are also emotional and intellectual benefits too.
Life lessons about winning, losing and offering support to others are some fringe benefits of playing in an organized sport. Failure is less of a scary prospect when you learn how to shoulder the burden with others.
Individual sports offer a great sense of pride and accomplishment as well as teach discipline.
Public vs. Private
If you are keen to have your child participate in an organized sport, check out publically funded programs run through your local Parks & Recreation department. The quality of instruction is often excellent, and offers kids the chance to try a sport out without a huge financial investment.
Private clubs or leagues are often much more expensive, but offer kids the chance to belong to team, test at different levels or compete in whatever sport or skill they are learning to master.
Read your Young Athlete’s “Contract”
When choosing a sport for your child, take into account how often they will participate (i.e. what is the weekly commitment?). What are equipment needs and team fees? Are there any costs for uniforms? Is the child expected to participate in tournaments or competition? Are these out of town?
This can help determine what the total cost of participating in a particular sport, which may narrow down the favourites.
Be Proactive in Trying to Minimize Costs.
Several clubs allow families to pay by instalments, or offer discounts to families who register multiple sibling at the same time. These are not always advertised, so it is best to ask for specific arrangements.
Used equipment in good condition is often perfectly suitable. Check out stores that offer discounts on trade-ins. Look for club-sponsored equipment swaps. Scan garage sales. Ask friends with older children if they have equipment that you could borrow.
This is also a good idea if a child is trying out a sport or activity for the first time, so that you can try before you buy.