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December 2016 14 www.sportseventsmagazine.com The High Cost Of Youth Sports How Are Planners Responding? BY SELENA CHAVIS Elite sports programs and the travel sports phenomenon are two of the primary drivers contributing to higher costs, industry professionals say. For instance, a 2016 TD Ameritrade study found that per-child expenditures for elite youth sports typically run between $100 and $499 per month, per child, although costs can reach and even exceed $1,000 per month. The bulk of expenditures are attributed to travel and team fees. Other research conducted by Travis Dorsch at Utah State University found that spending on youth sports can account for as much as 10.5 percent of a family's gross income. Mark Hyman, a seasoned journalist and author covering the business of sports, re- called spending time with a Louisiana girls softball team while writing his book, "The Most Expensive Game in Town." Compris- ing girls under the age of 10, the team had been on the road for 7-8 weekends during the summer months and were attending a tournament in Round Rock, TX, amid thousands of other players. "People would not be in this business if there were not demand for what they are selling," Hyman said. "The business of youth sports — it's just responding to de- mand from parents who want these things. I think it's important to acknowledge that." Tom Pingel, senior director of events with USA Volleyball, said that broad family participation — parents, siblings, grandpar- ents and others — in travel programs also contributes to the appearance of higher costs. "When the economy was down a few years ago, our membership didn't drop. What did drop is our room pickup and gate, which indicated to us that maybe one par- ent was going instead of two," Pingel said. Youth sports are big business in American culture. Across the board, competition and costs associated with play have risen steadily in recent years, garnering both positive and negative attention from those stand- ing on the sidelines watching it unfold. SPECIAL FEATURE: CVBs & Sports Commissions American Youth Soccer Organization