Play and Pay

Gain in sports often means loss in wallets


Kamerin Maddix

On average, parents in the United States spend around $700- $1,000 a month on youth sports depending on the sport being played by the athlete.

Kamerin Maddix, Reporter

Youth sports help shape the future of many children today forming long-lasting friendships, building character, and so much more. But those benefits come at a cost – a high financial cost.
The cost of youth sports varies between each sport but it has increased over the years. If put in perspective the cost of equipment, travel, uniforms, training programs, coaching fees, and other small variables. According to, on average parents in the United States spend around $700-1,000 a month on youth sports.
Some of the student athletes of our school take part in spending this amount of money while they participate in youth sports.
“Youth sports is a five billion dollar annual industry, and about forty-five million youth, ages eight to sixteen participate in youth sports just in the U.S. Roughly twenty-five million youth compete in school sports and twenty million play organized out-of-school sports,” as mentioned in an article on

Ice Hockey
Ice hockey is one of the most expensive sports that one can choose to play. A seventh-grader at Wilson Middle school, Eli Harrell, has played hockey since his early ages. Currently, he plays for the Metro Junior Jets out of Mount Clemens.
“Over the years I think my parents have spent a lot of money so I could keep playing hockey,” E. Harrell said.
To purchase all the gear needed and pay tuition for a beginner player will cost you between $2,000-2500, about half of which is equipment and half of which is paying for ice time.
The ice time locally varies on the rink you chose but at the Allen Park civic center every Monday the price is $200 per hour but is negotiable.
Skates alone can average around eighty dollars and Harrell said he gets his skates sharpened regularly which is an additional cost.
However, the most expensive skates can cost $300 and the cheapest ones are as low as ten dollars. On top of that, shoulder and knee pads can cost eighty dollars each. Sticks are around $200 on average depending on the brand.
For an intermediate player, you are looking at about $6000-7000 depending on the costs annually of your local travel hockey organization which is what Harrell plays for. Depending on where you live these prices could vary wildly.

Softball and Baseball
Softball and baseball require less protective gear than hockey, but players still need bats, helmets, cleats, and a good glove. Depending on what position an athlete plays, it might cost more money.
For example, freshman Hannah Parish was a catcher, catcher’s gear sets can cost between $400 and $600. But her sister Haylee Parish was a pitcher and also a shortstop and did not need as much equipment which was cheaper.
“I loved being a catcher, and I like to think that I was actually pretty good at it but I never really took into consideration the price of gear and stuff,” Hannah Parish said.
But families similar to the Parish family who want to further their child’s skill set can pay upward of $8,000 annually if they opt for extra training services and play in out-of-state tournaments.
Some players, aside from the Parish girls, partake in private lessons with an instructor. Some coaches in Michigan offer in-person lessons ranging from $25 to around $70.

Basketball is not as expensive as a sport such as hockey or others since not much equipment is needed. Depending on if you just play high school basketball or play on a travel team or get private training the prices may vary.
Our varsity girls basketball team purchased team shoes this year and those cost $94 for each player.
“The shoes make us look so much put together as a team and I think we all need some shoe updates,” senior varsity player Jordyn Guyzik said. “I have had mine since sophomore year.”
Each year they also have an option to buy spirit gear or fan shirts to represent their team and depending on the vendor and the brand they choose it could be pricey. Other gear including uniforms and basketballs are provided by the school but every couple of years new uniforms are bought.
“Compared to travel softball, I haven’t spent that much money playing basketball. All of it was totally optional but I do plan on joining a travel basketball team,” freshman Hannah Parish said.
After their school season, some girls choose to play for a travel basketball team.
One local AAU team in Michigan The Greg Grant Basketball & Training Center has a travel team. They hold tryouts and open gyms and they are ten dollars per player for tryouts. Other clubs such as O3 in Saline charge $25 to try out. Once a player makes the team, a season of about three months can cost anywhere from $300-$650. Gyms like these also have coaches who offer one on one and small group training sessions available for purchase.
For example, you can get a one-on-one session with a coach starting at $100 per hour at the Greg Grant Center. The prices per player go down for a one on four session with a coach to $40 per player per hour.
Families can pay little to upwards of $3000 annually, depending on how much an athlete does.

Junior Anna Harrell has played for the soccer team DCFC out of Taylor for a few years now which is a travel team and she also plays on the varsity team in spring.
“I’ve been playing soccer for a while now and on my travel team I play for the fall, winter, and summer but I stop travel for the spring so I can play for the school,” A. Harrell said.
Harrell states that she pays a monthly payment of $150 to play on DCFC during the time she plays and does not pay anything for when she plays for the school. That works out to about $1300 annually. More extreme clubs can cost more than double that.
Soccer players need cleats and shin guards at a minimum as well as indoor shoes which adds to the family’s financial burden.

There are several different types of cheerleading squads available for the youth: recreational, school, and All-Star.
“When I participated in cheer I competed in competitive and cheered sideline and I would say it was very pricey,” senior Angel Gibson said. “Yearly, I would pay $850 to $1,000 and that includes tumble classes, stunting classes, practice gear, competition bows, and every year we buy new shoes which are $100 alone, and cheer camp over the summer is $300.”
Extra fees will be required of competition squad members that will include travel, accommodations, food and competition fees. Depending on the number of competitions that the team enters and where they are located this could add $500 – $1000 to the cost.
“We would have tryouts and the day after we could have a parent meeting and right then and there we would have to pay $300 and then there would be another payment toward the middle of the season that would be a little less but it was still a good chunk and a lot of money,” Gibson said.
Now for the All Star side, typically the cost range for All Star cheerleading would be from $1500-5000 a year depending on the age and level of the team costs involved with the group: team costs and travel costs. The costs consist of money paid directly to the gym, including tuition and coaches fees, uniforms and practice gear, competition fees and private sessions. Travel expenses can be added on top of that.
“When I competed in all star cheer it was way more expensive than high school, we had to buy our own uniform, warmups, and shoes which all came to around $400,” Gibson said. “We were a travel team so we had to pay travel costs at least three times a year, competition fees, food, gas, airfare, house and car rentals.”
Gibson and her all-star team, Champion Force, also had a $24 weekly payment that was due eleven months out of the year which is over $1100 alone.

Other Sports
That only covers a few of the popular sports. Youth sports in a growing industry and various levels of teams can be found for almost every sport. Volleyball players could play for a club or just as a sport in high school but the price and fees could vary dramatically.
For example, Pulse Volleyball is a somewhat popular club for volleyball and a few girls in Roosevelt have played for them before.
Pulse offers small group training sessions with two to four athletes. The cost for these sessions is $30 per athlete. There has to be a minimum of two athletes to run a one hour semi private training session.
Swimmers, according to typically incur four main costs: USA Swim fees, training fees, fundraising obligations, and meet fees.
Meet fees are required entry fees paid to participate in the event. Club/team memberships range from approximately $300 to $600 for beginners and approximately $1000 to $2000 for advanced swimmers. In terms of gear a competitive suit is recommended for boys they range from $20 to $45 and a girls suit range from $25 to $70.
Football players can usually get their helmet and shoulder pads issued from their team but if purchased can easily be $500 per player, and that’s just a starting range. Also the girdle leg pads are a minimum of $75 as well. Football can have 7-on-7 seasons and position camps which can add to the cost.
Youth sports as an industry has become a multi-million dollar industry that does not seem to be going anywhere.