Thursday, August 04, 2016

Is It Worth It For Families To Spend Thousands Of Dollars A Year So Their Kids Can Play In Elite Sports Leagues?

See For a child's dreams, are parents going for gold, or broke? by SARAH SKIDMORE SELL, AP Personal Finance Writer. Excerpts:
"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.

Some parents can absorb the cost, but others are working second jobs, depleting their savings or otherwise compromising their own financial well-being to fund the activities. In the survey, 60 percent say the expense has them concerned about their ability to save for the future.

Parents largely say they don't regret the spending because of the physical, mental and emotional benefits for their children. But financial and athletic experts suggest parents make a more objective assessment of at what cost the kids are pursuing these dreams.

Of nearly 8 million U.S. students currently participating in high school athletics, only 480,000 compete at the college level at an NCAA school, according to the organization. Few from that group will move on to compete at the Olympic or professional level.

And parents hoping for a scholarship to offset their sacrifices may be disappointed. NCAA schools awarded more than $2.9 billion in athletics scholarships last year. But a full ride is rare, and a partial scholarship may come to a fraction of what it cost to get a child to that level."

""Parents are coming from a place of love, they want what is best for their kids," said Travis Dorsch, founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University. "Unfortunately they are misinformed."

Specializing in just one sport early, common among elite team players, leads to greater burnout and an increased likelihood of injury, Dorsch said. And he found that families who made larger financial investments in a child's athletic participation led to kids feeling more pressure, less enjoyment and a lower commitment to the sport.

Of the families in Dorsch's research, which spanned many income and sport participation levels, more than half invested less than 1 percent of their gross income. But nearly 15 percent invested between 2 percent and 5 percent, and 3 percent invested more than 5 percent of their gross income."

"many people have an economic interest in parents spending more on sports - from elite coaches to the facilities that host the tournaments. So parents may be urged to make decisions that are not based on neutral input."

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