One letter I received this week asked the question, “Is it worthwhile to have our kids play travel sports?”
Before parents sign their kids up for travel sports, it’s important to weigh the long-term benefits and costs of activities such as soccer, softball, baseball, cheerleading, hockey, etc. If you run some numbers on a sample 12-week season, assuming four away tournaments at $150 a night for hotel rooms and $80 a day for food, you can see that you’re potentially going to burn through more than $5,000 a year for each child involved in a travel sport.
Example: 12-week season with 4 weekend tournaments
Hotel $150/night (2 nights) $300
Food $80/day (2 days) $160
Gas $40/one way $80
Total Fees (1 tournament) $540 x 4 = $2,160
Two Seasons/year $5,320/year
Compare this to one semester of USI $7,361
If you have the means, travel sports can be a great option to consider. However, you’ll want to avoid digging
yourself into a hole by financing these activities via credit cards, home equity loans, or even 401(k) loans.
It’s also important to consider longer-term goals in mind, like saving for college. You should weigh the true cost of participating in travel sports if it puts something like college in jeopardy.
Another factor to keep in mind is that of burnout. Even if your child is talented enough to garner some grant
aid or scholarship at a young age, what impact could it have in the long run?
Twenty or 30 years ago there really wasn’t such a thing as travel baseball or soccer, AAU basketball or
cheerleading tournaments over nine months of the year, but these sports have evolved. It’s important to
remember that many of the same benefits of camaraderie, teamwork, self-discipline and sacrifice are still
available at our local leagues, middle school and high school – often for a fraction of the cost.
Drew Watson, Certified Financial Planner, is a Private Wealth Advisor with Align Wealth Management, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.