Youth soccer has become the most popular sport in America. Children are starting recreational leagues as young as three years of age. As for competitive soccer (travel soccer) teams are being fielded as early as eight years of age. Why so young? Currently, there is an epidemic about earning a “full ride” scholarship, if your child doesn’t start by the time they walk, they are missing their opportunity. This thought process is resulting in injuries, burnout, and taking the fun out of a game. Youth sports should be a time when families become closer, exercise and eating habits are formed, and social skills are developed.
People who are treating youth sports as an economical investment will eventually learn that very few get any sort of value on their return. An average season (registration, gas, food, time, etc) can run from $1,500.00-$10,000.00 depending on how many events your team attends along with the distance traveled. (added costs: flights hotels). At this point, you (the reader) can do a cost average of what you might spend over ten years.
For someone who is new at youth soccer, I would say that an average of $3000.00 a season is a very conservative estimation over a ten year period. This means that you the parent will have invested $30,000.00 on your child’s soccer career. This is a great investment if you get a “full ride” for $120,000.00, but you need to ask yourself, how many people do I know have full athletics scholarships? Usually, that answer is “a lot” because scholarship stories are like stories about catching fish; they grow bigger and bigger as time passes.
So here is a simple solution I have for all of you who are reading this article. Ask to see it! It’s not rude to ask to see someone’s scholarship; a scholarship is like a trophy, the owner should be proud to show it. If you take my advice, and ask to see someone’s full athletic scholarships, you will soon learn that it’s more the exception than the rule. When this realization is achieved, you as a parent won’t feel obligated to drive thousands of miles, spend thousands of dollars, and apply an enormous amount of pressure on your child. Instead, you can do what youth sports were created to do, bring families closer, provide a healthy lifestyle, and create friendships.
Steve Aristotelous is a youth and college soccer coach who holds a Master’s Degree in Sports Science. Steve has coached and trained hundreds of athletes who have gone on to sign scholarships to some of the most prestigious soccer schools. Steve has also been named Coach of the Year by 4 different governing organizations.