Sports Wanderings: Pricing youth sports out of existence

There is no question the cost of youth sports continues to increase. Things just cost more.

There are tangible costs that go up, like ice time, equipment, field paint and other supplies. Our local sports groups like minor hockey, soccer and baseball all work hard to keep the costs down for those who play.

There is another side to those increased costs; the regional and provincial governing bodies. In those cases there is always the question, are those groups pricing youth sports out of existence? In some cases I would agree.

The role of these larger governing bodies is to provide consistency throughout a sport and a level playing field between local groups. They set standards for everyone to follow and membership provides access to shared insurance. Theoretically the umbrella organizations provide program support to local clubs as well.

In practice, that is not always the case.

Depending on the sport, there have been issues with city-centric development, ignoring smaller or rural organizations; the typical urban-rural divide we hear so much about.

For many groups, the fees “kicked-up” to higher levels only yield insurance coverage the other way. Clubs could purchase something on their own from a broker at a lower cost than the fees.

The catch-22 is by not being a member of the larger group, a club or a team would lose access to leagues and tournaments.

It may be time that the local clubs stand up to the umbrella organizations and ask them to be accountable for the increased costs. Is there a need for a shiny new facility, or is there a way they can keep their costs down so that the sport does not get priced out of existence?

The local groups try to do more with less every season, while providing the best to the kids involved. That is the reason we are all here.