Youth club sports

I’m trying to understand the economics of youth club sports, without success.

Many families pay lots of money for their children, often as young as 11, to play on select club teams. Often there is the hope that, with this training at a young age, their future college costs will be covered by an athletic scholarship.

Looking at club volleyball teams where I live, the typical price for being on a select club teams is approximately $2,000 for the academic year and perhaps the same amount of money for more intense training over the summer.

That’s $4,000 a year for maybe 8 years, or $32,000. If simply deposited in the bank, that’s enough to cover all or nearly all of 4 years of in-state tuition, room, and board at most public universities… whether or not the child is eventually good enough to play a sport in college.

I’m told that the annual costs of a premier studio for instruction in dance and music are comparable.

My conclusion: if your child loves a sport (and is really good at it), and you can see your child’s character grow through participating, and you have the financial ability for him/her to play on a select team, by all means, feel free to encourage your child in this direction. The intangible benefit of encouraging a child in finding his/her passion (if affordable by the parents) is probably immeasurable strictly in terms of dollars and cents. Just be aware that the total cost of training a future athlete via select club teams is comparable to the cost of going to college in the first place.

(Full disclaimer: growing up as a math nerd with no empirically measurable athletic ability, I had no firsthand contact with club sports when I was young.)

Transition from high school to college

One of my (perhaps unsolvable) professional concerns is the large number of students who ace high school but flounder once hitting the higher academic expectations in college. This particular article was written by a student from Washington, DC, but it really could’ve come from anywhere.

A major contributing cause (though not the only one) is that the high-stakes tests that high school students take at the end of the year does not even come close to measuring college readiness. If I could wave my magic wand, I would assess the effectiveness of high schools not only with high-staking testing but also with graduates’ GPA in core classes during their freshman year of college.