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Paying the Price of Today's Parenting

Posted on January 12, 2011
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What is the cost we pay for kids sports vs. parental income these days?  Would our parents have ever spent so much money for us to be involved in activities 30 years ago?  I just signed Jack, Michael and Tommy up for another session of Ice Hockey.  Jack has moved to an in-house league, so he'll finally be playing in games. Tommy and Michael have passed out of "learn to skate" classes and now are in Pre-Hockey 1. That means they are finally wearing all of the equipment.  Now I grew up playing hockey (and still play now - badly - in my old age) so I know how expensive the sport is.  Outfitting a five year old in all new equipment can easily cost more than $300.  And the fees are like no other sport.  Besides the equipment cost the price for our boys to participate over the next two and half months is just shy of a $1000.  And folks, that is for what would be conisdered minimal participation. We are in on the low end of the price spectrum.

We have friends who just had to pull their first-grader out of school to go play in a tournament in Canada.  They have two boys playing "travel" hockey, which not only means that they drive (and sometimes even fly) all over creation to play in games and tournaments, it also means that they could buy a new car every year with what they spend on hockey.

The pressure on parents to get their kids heavily involved in a particular sport is out of control.  Our fourth grader is so far behind these first graders that he maybe could never catch up.  There is no "season" for sports anymore.  Baseball practice starts in January.  Kids are pressured by their hockey coaches not to play baseball in the summer so they can keep skating.  Private lessons, tutors, year round clinics are offered for all sports.

By the time my kids get to school the four-sport star won't exist.  These kids get so good at such a young age that those who don't committ get left behind. Would the Michael Jordan who was cut from the basketball team in high school ever have tried again, or would he have just concentrated on baseball?  

Every generation does something more that the older generation can't believe.  Just as our parents must be stunned to hear about what we spend on certain things for our kids today, what must our grandparents have thought about....about.  What were the things our parents spent too much on for us?

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