Parents paying more than ever to enroll their kids in extra-curriculars
Stephanie Graham, Vince Vitrano
A spot in the high school marching band: $1000 a year.
Specialized clinics to earn a pitching title: $90 a class.
While the memories may be priceless, the amount you pay to play isn't. Just ask Karen LaFlamme. she has a son and daughter who play sports. "For Chantal's swimming, it cost approximately $4,000 a year," she says.
For her son Andre: $3700 to hit the baseball diamond using a new $300 bat! There's also traveling expenses, gate fees and hotel bills. Experts say some parents are now shelling out up to a $1,000 a month, and that's just for one child and one sport. Why such a high price to play? Jon Butler is Executive Director of the Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc. He says, "There is constantly more demand than facilities available and therefore drives the price of facility use up and secondarily insurance provided by the youth sports program."
Butler says 40% of families participating in extracurriculars don't have medical insurance, forcing the organizations to provide coverage. Another factor driving up costs: The elite level of coaching and play demanded by parents.
"I think there is a whole societal issue now of parents who have grown up and are successful and want nothing but the best for their child," he explains.
It's no longer just volunteers doing the coaching, either. Highly paid assistants are brought in to help out. There's also an increase in pricey high tech gear. Trainers prefer $300 bats to the $20 models. Coaches say $40 swimsuits don't compare to the $250 version. Experts say don't invest until you know your child hits that elite level and loves the sport. Buy used equipment at thrift stores and franchise outlets. Ask about scholarships, and try community-based programs for new sports for your child.
Karen's kids love their sport, and although she doesn't like the hit her bank account is taking, she sees the benefits of her kids participating. "I want both my kids to be well-rounded and you know I think sports play an important part of that."
Here's another saving tip: Ask about sibling discounts. Most programs offer them.
If your child is involved in a community based program, the uniform is more than likely included in the registration cost. Parents usually have to pay extra for a pair of athletic shoes.