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Kids celebrating a soccer win
The Rockies.Life Staff

Little League, Big Bills: Parents Paying Thousands For Kids Sports

Parents are shelling out big bucks for their kids' sports—some spending up to $10,000 a year—only to see them quit before high school

It turns out that it isn’t just adults with commitment issues. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 70 percent of kids drop out of organized sports by age 13. 

To add salt to the wound, a 2019 survey found that almost 60 percent of parents spent more than $5,000 a year on sports for their children, with over 40 percent spending as much as $10,000.

If your parents ever got mad at you for not wanting to go to soccer practice, now you know why. But it isn’t just about the money.

Sports play an important role in the development of children. Keeping kids active promotes physical and mental health. 

A study published by JAMA Pediatrics found that physical activity helps reduce depressive symptoms in children and adolescents, especially for children older than 13 with a mental illness or depression. 

A similar report by the Women’s Sports Foundation found that youth who played sports had higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression and loneliness. 

Sports also teach children valuable social skills, such as teamwork, leadership, respect, and fairness. These skills help children mature and develop meaningful relationships with others. 

However, despite the many benefits, children’s sports costs are only affordable for some families. 

For example, the average cost of playing hockey in Canada is just under $4,500 per child. That number can climb to over $7,000, depending on age and skill level. 

With its high cost of living and the highest inflation rate of any Canadian province, Alberta is a particularly challenging environment for affordability for families. The exorbitant cost of children’s sports adds to the financial strain, making it a pressing issue that needs immediate attention.  

Soccer is the most popular sport among Canadian kids  Play Where You Stay
Soccer is the most popular sport among Canadian kids | Play Where You Stay

Creating Opportunities For Children

All hope is not lost. In 2023, the provincial government launched the Every Kid Can Play program to help make sports and recreation accessible to families. 

Families can apply for up to $350 per child through the program to offset costs associated with children’s sports, such as registration fees. The grants are provided by the non-profit organization KidSport Alberta

In March this year, the province announced an $8 million investment in the program and, more recently, reopened applications for grants. 

“I’m happy to announce that KidSport Alberta has already helped over 8,300 kids play the sport of their choice through this program, distributing over $2.3 million in registration fee subsidies,” said Kelly Oehlerking, executive director of KidSport Alberta.

According to Chelsea Carey, the development and communications manager for KidSport Alberta, the organization helped over 17,000 kids between 2022 and 2023. 

Grants aren’t limited to families. 

Non-profit organizations can also apply for a grant through the Every Kid Can Play program to reduce the costs of delivering sports and recreation programs, expanding them, or enhancing them.

Nonprofit organizations include provincial scope and community-level organizations. 

Provincial-scope organizations can receive funding of up to $100,000 per group per year for programs lasting up to two years, and community-level organizations can receive up to $25,000 per year. 

“Together, we can keep sport and recreation activities affordable and accessible in every corner of the province,” said Joseph Schow, minister of Tourism and Sport

Programs like Every Kid Can Play help but don’t solve the root of the problem. 

Until Alberta’s inflation rate and cost of living are addressed, many families will be unable to afford sports for their children. 

Our kids are our future. They shouldn’t have to miss out on development opportunities because of adult problems.

A single youth hockey stick can cost hundreds of dollars  Anton Belitskiy  Pexels
A single youth hockey stick can cost hundreds of dollars | Anton Belitskiy | Pexels

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