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The high price of children's sports

The high price of children's sports

Posted on: October 11, 2012
Author: Staff

We all know it: children are dear, but they aren't cheap. On top of the cost of the basics—food, clothing, school supplies—there 's the price of organized sports. And, according to a new ATB Financial survey of Alberta families, the price of those extracurricular events is out of reach for many.

The survey, conducted last month, revealed that 52 per cent of Alberta parents either agree or strongly agree the cost of extracurricular sporting activities, such as hockey, soccer, figure skating, and swimming, has prevented them from registering their children.

"It's often not the families you'd think of that need the most help," says Carole Holt, executive director of KidSport Alberta. "It's working families with jobs that just can't afford the fees."

KidSport Alberta, which provides grants and funding for children to defray the cost of belonging to clubs, teams, and organizations, is one of a host of agencies that helps parents take aim at the cost of staying physically and socially active.

Alberta fact:

52% of Alberta parents agree that the cost of extracurricular sports has prevented them from registering their children.

ATB Financial survey, September 2012

Holt says she isn't surprised the survey also found the average amount respondents expect to spend this year for out-of-school extracurricular activities is $808. For a child or children in their teens, that total, which includes fees, equipment, uniforms, tournament fees and travel costs, rises to $1208.

"What we are seeing is that there are a greater number of kids playing in club level sports, and these are the sports that are becoming more expensive because of the level of commitment for additional tournaments and fees," Holt says. "Sports with monthly fees can also be expensive."

KidSport isn't alone in its efforts to return sports to the grassroots. Programs like Hockey Alberta's Every Kid, Every Community makes the winter pastime more accessible to families from all demographics and communities.

"That program is geared towards introducing hockey to those kids that wouldn't otherwise participate in registered programs," says Scott Robinson, senior manager of business development for Hockey Alberta. "Through these funds, we're able to incent local groups to come up with creative ways to have kids participate in the game."

Hockey Alberta also works with local communities to start up pond hockey leagues, a less expensive alternative to organized leagues. "Our goal is to empower and challenge communities across the province to identify their local needs and come up with a creative way to engage their youth in hockey," Scott says.

If staying active is important to you, consider donating your time or money to KidSport, or passing on your child's gently used sports equipment to your local sports association.

And if you know an organization that supports kids who can't participate in mainstream hockey, check out the Every Kid, Every Community website for details on how to apply for a grant.

(The survey is accurate to within xx percent, xx times out of 20.)

Other articles you may be interested in:

How to save money on hockey equipment
5 creative hockey fundraising ideas