There’s an opportunity cost for everything so let’s never pretend that there isn’t. Like most people, your biggest challenges in making long-term buying decisions usually lands somewhere between what you want and what you need, and fortunately for everyone with a pulse, there is no clear answer – but more importantly there is no right or wrong answer. It’s youth sports, and its kids that play youth sports and they depend on you for so much that it’s impossible for them to not take you for granted. This is precisely why the idea that determining between wants and needs and the monetary implications of all that will always be the biggest challenge for parents – and there’s no shame in that.
So you want a number right? Just lay it on you – rip the band-aid off while you prepare for the proverbial flinch… but there’s good news that should warm your heart like a hot chocolate on a cold morning at the rink. The answer is – it depends. It depends where and how you want to start your child in the sport, how good they become and of the utmost importance, how much they enjoy playing. If you are just dipping your toe in, a local rec league or “house league” will suffice. Aside from equipment, the league fees and uniforms are reasonable and comparable to other sports. It should be noted that hockey is unique in that booking ice time is increasingly more difficult than booking a soccer or football field. In many states and provinces ice time costs can vary based on supply and demand, but if hockey is a viable option for your son or daughter take comfort in the pricing for registration being negligible relative to other youth sports.
Of course there’s the equipment thing, and unless you play football, no sport outfits their athletes better than the sport of hockey, and at the end of the day, it’s your child and you’re going to put them in the best of everything if it makes sense to do so. Skates on feet present the biggest outlier in youth sports apparel, but skates are durable, can last for years, and are easily resold once your child is ready for their next pair. Sticks, pads, helmets and uniforms are mostly up front costs, but in almost every municipality there are opportunities to purchase quality hockey equipment second hand, which also means you can sell the gear you no longer need.
So your kid is pretty good, and now you have an even bigger decision to make – how far do you want to take this thing? If the answer is “far” – that cost increases exponentially, but let’s not pretend that regional level club baseball, with $300 bats, $150 gloves and $60 helmets isn’t equally as expensive. The numbers are real – equipment, tournament fees, extra training, clinics, camps, hotels, food, travel and all the other unmentionables and before you know it your dropping $3K on a good year. The exorbitant costs associated are legit, but it’s an absolute myth to think that these costs only apply to hockey at the advanced level.
The number is $3757 per year should your child play at the highest level (though it could be much higher depending on many variables), and should you incur all possible costs associated with playing, but there’s that opportunity cost principle again, which forces you to not ask “what am I giving up?” but “what are WE gaining” and there’s a good chance you’ll be pleased with the answer.