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Parents risking it all to support their child’s sports futures

August 2, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
The pursuit of a professional sports career is one of the leading causes of sports specialization.

And in some cases, it’s a cause for financial ruin.

Photo: Kevin Hoffman
Photo: Kevin Hoffman

The Associated Press recently published a lengthy article taking a look inside the world of elite sports, particularly at the parents who risk it all in hopes their children will become superstars. Parents have withdrawn from their 401(k) and accumulated massive credit card debt to pay for gear, trips and training for their young athletes.

Not surprisingly, many of those kids still don’t achieve elite status.

From the article:

For his 15-year old son’s travel hockey team, Tim Richmeier was spending about $5,000 a season: using his tax refunds, halting contributions to his 401(k), and putting travel expenses on a credit card — including $6,000 he’s still paying off. Richmeier said it was a great experience for his child. But after four years, it was a financial relief when his son didn’t make the team.

“I was kind of dreading the upcoming season, knowing I’d go deeper in the hole,” said Richmeier, a single father in Phoenix.

Competitive youth sports in the U.S. are rising in popularity. The exclusive club and travel teams come with added coaching and intense competition, as well as much higher costs than a school or community team.

A survey released Monday by TD Ameritrade of 1,000 parents whose children are involved in such elite endeavors finds most pay between $100 and $499 a month. For one in five, it’s more than $1,000.

The complete article is worth your time, and it highlights the financial and mental burden that comes with chasing a professional sports dream. Some parents have taken on second jobs, and in the survey 60% said they were concerned about their financial futures.

In addition to financial problems, this approach is also a major cause for sports specialization in the United States. Despite conflicting evidence, a number of parents and young athletes believe focusing on a single sport improves their chances of playing at the next level. Coaches like Joe Maddon and athletes like JJ Watt, Giancarlo Stanton and Abby Wambach have all vocalized their support of multi-sport participation, and numerous studies have shown multiple sports are better for development and health.

Click here to read the complete story from The Associated Press.


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