Does Playing Sports Equal Emptying Your Wallet?

Growing up as a kid, I wasn’t enrolled in sports that I can remember.  I don’t really remember wanting to be, other than dance, and it was too expensive for my family at that time. I recall my brother wanting to play hockey and same story. I don’t think I lacked growing up because of that, but my family just really wasn’t sporty either and it never really seemed to bother me too much.

Now that I am a parent myself, and my daughter is of the age where she is interested in joining teams and playing sports, I am seeing the same reasoning that my parents did with us. The cost.

We enrolled my daughter in a 6 week dance program when she was 4. She loved it! I of course was thrilled at this, since I had wanted to do dance when I was younger and couldn’t.

We then enrolled her in the 20 week dance program for her age. Every Saturday morning from November through May, we made the trek into our local town to take my daughter to dance. She loved it and so did I! Buying the cute little ballet shoes, dance skirts, tutus, body suits. She looked adorable!

But after the initial cost of enrollment, the other additional costs started creeping in. Recital outfit, photos, cost for recital tickets, etc. The costs really did add up quickly.

We then put my daughter in T-Ball last summer and she enjoyed it, but not quite to the extent of dance, but the fee was much, much, MUCH less!

This past fall, we enrolled my daughter again. She loved it and if she was committed to it, we would pay for her to dance. I after all, enjoyed seeing her dance.

This time around we not only did 1 class, but 2. Still both on a Saturday morning, but double the cost. We were still fine with this. I get that there are costs associated to the companies that teach/coach etc. I am not trying to say that it isn’t worth it and nothing in this life is every really free or cheap anymore!

My daughter has now been asked to go into the competitive dance group next year. I have to say I was a little thrilled that she was asked! But of course with this brings even more costs than we have incurred this year.

We are a basically a 1 income family. We do not have extra cash to spend on a whim. Accepting this offer takes some thought on our part:

  1. It is ultimately up to our daughter, if she doesn’t want to, I obviously won’t make her do it
  2. We have to see if it is going to be ok financially for us.
  3. We have decided to only do 1 sporting/team activity with her. So if she chooses this, there will be no t-ball, no Sparks etc. etc.

I am all for keeping kids active and registering in team sports. I guess what all this has me thinking about is, at what cost though? I know family members who have spent thousands – upwards to $10,000 a year for an extracurricular activity/sport. To me that seems a bit much.

For now we are still deciding what we are going to do. It also makes me think about when my son gets older….what is hockey is in his future. Hello loans, here we come! 😛

Where do you draw the line for paying for sports for your children? Or do you draw a line? 

Crystal is a stay-at-home-mom to two beautiful little children and a wife to one great husband! Together with her family, Crystal resides just outside of the nation’s capital in the Ottawa Valley. Not that Mom’s get a lot of spare time, but when she does, Crystal is busy as a co-founder of Ottawa Valley Moms.


  • ashley

    Growing up I tried almost everything – (different years/seasons, but never really found anything I wanted to continue with) My brother played soccer, hockey, baseball – and eventually narrowed it down to hockey to continue with. My parents felt that we should explore our interests, and if it was something we really wanted to do, they would find the money for us to do it. We never ended up with ridiculous costs that they couldn’t afford.

    For our family now, we try and limit them to 2 activities per session (MAX – and it is 1 weekday because my oldest is only in half day SK, and 1 weekend; once he hits full days, it will be 1/session) but we are lucky, my in-laws pick up most of the cost. We certainly don’t have the money (also a 1 income family) to have them in everything under the sun, but even if we DID – i don’t think it is great to have kids in constantly scheduled activities. They need lots of down time.

    • Thanks for your reply Ashley! I totally agree, I don’t think a family needs to be running all over every night/day of the week. Even if we had tons of extra money, we wouldn’t likely be out more than we already are right now!

  • Judy

    My parents always let us try a few different things, I have one sibling who played a sport at a competitive level and represented Canada, another in a different sport who got through to provincial before deciding himself he didn’t want the sacrifices. I dabbled in everything with up to four activities a year. Not sure how but my parents always made it work but they did and let us decide how much was too much. The big rule was you could not quit anything part way through a session. You didn’t have to register the next year but had to see each session through.