Participation in youth sports is growing, and so is the amount of time and money necessary for families of young athletes to keep pace:

It’s estimated that at least 35 million kids between 5 and 18 currently play an organized sport each year in the U.S. Of that, 21 million are involved in nonschool youth sports, which have been expanding.

Youth soccer, for example, has risen from 2,388,000 players in 1995 to 3,020,000 in 2012 — with a near-even split between girls and boys.

Parents’ task is to come up with the time and money to get their kids to training and tournament events. That could entail driving to the other side of town — or flying across the country.


Mark Koba chronicles the family of a young gymnast and notes the travel industry loves it:

The Bermacks are part of the explosive youth sports movement, which has become a $7 billion industry in travel alone.

“Youth sports tourism wasn’t even a category four years ago, and now it’s the fastest-growing segment in travel,” said Dave Hollander, professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports.

“You’ve got millions of kids involved, parents spending thousands of dollars, and cities building facilities to host events and chase tourism dollars,” he said. “It’s just huge.”


From a reader:

This is a great article for parents. I know it effects many parents not just in this area, but all over the country. My best friend in Midland, TX pays about $1500 a season for her daughter to play softball, usually a fall and spring/summer season. That doesn’t include uniforms, bags, travel, hotel costs, tournament fees, etc. Its crazy, but her daughter loves it. She has been looked at by some Division I teams in Texas to play for them already, and she is just a junior this year! During the summer she travels 5 hours to Ft.Worth twice a week for  practice and games. I talked to a guy in Pittsburgh where his son plays hockey. He said it gets very competitive and some parents even travel to foreign countries to have their kids play. It’s kind crazy, but I can understand it.


(Back Pat: Carmel Henson)

(Photo: Ned Ketyer)