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Playground Equipment Blog
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When Team Sports Hike Their Cost -- Take a Hike!

Fall is coming, and with it the pressure as a parent to enroll your child in team sports. Where this used to be a small fee to have your child involved, it has become a huge strain and burden on most families. The cost of sports involvement has skyrocketed over the years to costing in the thousands of dollars per year. One blogger, Stats Dad, posted his personal costs for his family on his blog. The results paint a clear picture as to why it costs so much. An article published by the Aspen Institute’s Project Play shows that the kids being most hurt are those from low income families. What makes this even worse is that the children that need access to the benefits of team sports the most are the ones with the least opportunity to engage in them.


What happened to free play and exercise? Often times the suggestions include individual sports like golf (expensive), martial arts (very expensive), and horseback riding (MEGA expensive), which are inaccessible to many students, especially for those in city areas. There are local clubs and groups available to play team sports as well, but those aren’t always an option for everyone.


So what can we do as a community? We’ve put together a few ideas together to help you get started with some affordable outdoor activities in your local area.


Group Play


Games like tag, Mother May I?, and even just kicking a ball around to a game of their own making can present children with lots of benefits. They are still cooperating with others and learning basic social skills, and the best part is that a lot of these things are free! If you coordinate with other parents in the area you can each take a turn making sure children are safe, helping everyone involved. Here’s a few ideas to try with a few neighborhood kids:


  • Tag/Freeze Tag
  • Mother May I?
  • Jump Rope/Double Dutch - Click here for a list of jump rope rhymes!
  • Spud! - The rules are simple and the game goes fast.
  • Kickball - While this is normally needs a larger area, it can be adapted for a smaller area.
  • Badminton - This is particularly good because the “birdie” doesn’t fly very far and doesn’t move very fast. Also, you can get equipment fairly cheaply.
  • Hiking - click here
  • to read about some of the benefits that come from hiking!
  • Check out our Blast from the Past: Classic Yard Games to Play Today for even more ideas!

Individual Sports


There are many low cost sports that are individual. Even using a jump rope on their own presents a child with many physical benefits. Try out a few of these ideas:


  • Rollerblading/skating
  • Jump rope
  • Bicycling
  • Skateboarding
  • Scootering
  • Basketball *If you have a hoop at home*

School Sports


While school sports may have some fees, they tend to be significantly less than joining an outside team or group. Most times the school provides the uniforms (one less cost) and some of the equipment (yet another cost). This actually makes playing a team sport doable for children.


Sometimes, in addition to more traditional sports teams, there are athletic clubs. I remember doing a fitness class with my 7th grade science teacher along with several other students. I still smile when I think back on it, and it didn’t cost my parents anything.


Spend Wisely on Team Sports


I try to offer you many alternatives to team sports, but some sports are only team sports. If you look at this list and know your child definitely MUST play basketball or baseball or soccer, there are ways to make it more affordable. Next week, we’ll delve more deeply into ways to save if your child wants to do a team sport.


What are some alternatives to team sports that you have tried? Sound off in the comments below!!!


Written by: Parker Jones

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