Can't put a price on it

By Laine Sedore

Goalie pads on a wall at Play it again sports in Belleville
Enrolling your child in sports these days can be a major financial strain on your family.

Todd Robertson has had a daughter in hockey for the past 12 years. He said he spends way to much on the sport in one year.

“I would say I spend a minimum of $5,000 a year in the last three to four years,” he said.

Robertson’s daughter Madison currently plays on the Belleville Bearcats Midget AA hockey team. But hockey isn’t the only sport Robertson has spent money on.

“She had a try-out for the provincial girls soccer team at her age group. Has the price compared though? No. Not in terms of fees and equipment. Certainly with the soccer we did a lot of traveling and I think we probably spent as much on travel with soccer but nowhere near the amount in terms of fees and equipment,” Robertson said.

Harry Bell, southern Ontario Canadian Tire Jumpstart regional manager,   said hockey is certainly one of the more expensive sports, but there are others that people often overlook.

“A lot of people don’t also look at things like dance, gymnastics, martial arts, because those are ongoing programs and require fees more than once throughout the year, they’re also very expensive sports to have your children involved in,” he said.
Canadian Tire Jumpstart is a program that helps financially disadvantaged families get their children and youth involved in sports and recreation programs across Canada. Jumpstart is in its eighth year and to date has helped over 400,00 children coast to coast with over $40 million in funding, said Bell.

“I see a lot of our funding going towards those sports that have really gone up in cost in the past two or three years because families just can’t afford to pay it,” said Bell.

A study done by Statistics Canada in 2008 about the rising cost in sports showed that parents feel pressured to buy their kids top of the line equipment and often don’t say no to too many costs. Bell said it isn’t really necessary for parents to purchase high-end gear.

“A six, seven, eight or nine-year-old person, boy or girl, doesn’t need a top of the line pair of skates, they don’t need a top of the line composite hockey stick. Hand-me-down equipment or gently used equipment is fine because they’re going to grow out of it in a short time,” said Robertson.

Above all the costs, there are many benefits to putting your child in sports aside from the whole physical activity aspect.

“I feel that things turned out pretty good and I feel that sports were one of the reasons for that. My daughter has such confidence and self-esteem because of the things she did through dance and having that stage presence,” Bell said “She has no fear to speak in front of people and she did that at an early age. So I really feel that it’s not only the health benefits from a sports perspective but the mental and character building aspects as well.”

Robertson said he and doesn’t regret putting his daughter in hockey. He said it taught her more than how to play hockey.

“It’s like those commercials that list things and then at the end they say it’s priceless, it’s just priceless what she’s learned from it, in terms of growing as a human being, in terms of learning to be competitive, self confidence and self esteem and interacting with other people,” he said. “ Some of the things we’ve done, we travelled to Europe a couple summers ago, just those opportunities that’s she’s had, you can’t put a price on it.”

Click here for interview with Todd Robertson