I love watching young parents taking their toddlers to dance, soccer, gymnastics and hockey. They are so completely adorable in their ignorance. I can’t help but smirk, er, smile I mean, when I see them beam at their little darling in their team uniform. They really have no idea what awaits them once they have kids in competitive sports.
The reality is that there’s a whole other side to this. A darker, more cynical side that parents of older children reside on. We used to be like them, so innocent as we helped our children find that sport they would be passionate about and now that we’re up to our eyeballs in it, there are certain inescapable truths, no matter what sport they play.
Universal Truths that Parents with Kids in Competitive Sports Know
You will be broke. At first you’ll manage, but the moment you begin to sacrifice things, you’ll know for sure how deep you’re in. According to experts, parents of children in competitive sports spend on average $1658 a year for their child’s competitive sporting endeavours. Before you jump all over me because you’re positive you spent at least a cool million last year on your child’s extracurricular pursuits, remember that this is an average and not everyone drives a BMW to the Tim Horton’s while their child begs for money, er, I mean fundraise.
That dollar amount, by the way is for the smart ones that had one child. Heaven forbid you have another child, or two and whamo, you can start kissing some things goodbye, like a new car, that dream vacation to Paris, a new summer wardrobe. Oh well, you didn’t really need anything, right?
I’d also just like to add that this amount seems ridiculously low to me so it was obviously averaged out with the annual tuition of competitive ping pong. Finally, don’t ever think you have extra money in the bank. The instant you do, someone will grow out of their hockey skates or cheer shoes. It’s like the Murphy’s Law of competitive sports.
You will never have summers off again. The organizations and teams like to suck you in at the beginning by running their programs in conjunction with the school year. Come May or June you skip out of their last recital or competition so proud of your little superstar and then spend two months thinking this gig isn’t so bad. Don’t fall for it. Seriously. Yes, yes, it’s totally okay to get two months off of school (who needs math anyway) but two months away from a sport? This simply can’t happen. I vote we move to a year round schooling system to keep in conjunction with competitive sports schedules.
The most popular brand in your house will be *insert your team name here*. Forget Apple, Nike, and Skechers. Your child’s team name will be the most branded item you see for the next ten years. You will have t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, track pants, luggage, water bottles , backpacks, iPhone cases, flip flops, sunglasses and rubber bracelets. I bet your last mortgaged dollar they didn’t include that in the “annual cost” mentioned above. Don’t worry, you can cry about it into your branded team coffee mug.
Your child’s club will become your second home. And it’s smelly. Enough said.
Your social schedule will now be dictated by practice, competition, team building, fundraisers and team parties. In fact, just kiss your old friends goodbye when you write those first cheques and say hello to your new best buddies, the other parents…..because you’ll be seeing a lot of each other.
You will practice questionable judgment….a lot. You will keep your kids home sick from school with a fever, but send them to practice so they don’t disappoint the team. You wouldn’t dream of sending them out to play in a thunderstorm, but you’ll let them run over an open field chasing a ball in one. You’ll shout “You’re not injured, you’re hurt! Suck it up and get back in there”. You’ll wonder who you are.
You will travel way more to less exotic places than you ever dreamed of. Think of the worst place you could spend your hard earned money and then multiply that times four. This is where you child’s team will compete over and over and over again, like you’re in some weird sports version of Groundhog Day. Uncomfortable mattresses, unsanitary swimming pools and greasy, barely digestible food is in your future. You’ll commiserate with your fellow parents over cheap wine and warm beer in the hallway of the crappy hotel your team is staying at. Forgetting what a real holiday looks like, you’ll find yourself enjoying this.
You wouldn’t stop doing it for all the hot cars, dream vacations and stunning clothes in the world. The bottom line is this, the kids are happy. They are involved and passionate and light up when they play their sport. You helped them find this passion and now you’re on the hook for it for a very long time and you wouldn’t stop doing it now because they love it and you love them. And that’s the most universal truth of all.