Something that has always fascinated me is just how expensive playing sports can be. Everything is fun and games when you (or your kids) are playing tee ball and scoring goals on those 2 ft high yellow soccer nets (you know the ones). But right around 6 years old, something happens. In the first few years, it means buying uniforms, maybe a glove or two. But from ages 8-14 (which happens to be when most children growth spurts occur) coaches start listing off endless gear needed to perform at the next level. Not wanting to fall behind, parents probably bought most, if not all, of those items. Multiple baseball gloves, several pairs of soccer cleats and some shoulder pads later, you are in High School and most of your sports equipment is too small or obsolete.
Now, while this is pretty well documented through anecdotes from angry parents and eager sports journals (albeit in fragments across many sites) no one has successfully quantified this. What’s worse, people seem to forget the most expensive part of sports: TRAVEL. In regular leagues, you can sometimes drive up to 100 miles just for one Saturday morning game (imagine doing this for multiple kids). The real $$$ starts piling up when you factor in overnight travel and sometimes even flights.
Below is an interactive view of my first public analytics project, The Sport Report. I used Tableau, my tool of choice when I need to aggregate and visualize data.
Biggest takeaways for me:
- Not surprisingly, Golf has the biggest monetary barrier to enter (the bare minimum to play Golf for a child is $303…And an additional $36 every round of 18)
- While Soccer, Football and Basketball all cost very little to play pick-up (~$20 for a ball), Soccer is by far the most accessible and least injury prone, which correlates to it being the most popular sport in the world.
- Playing in a AAU (Travel) league vs. a local recreational league almost triples the cost over an 8 year period
Please click on the image below to interact with this visualization.
– Excel to store data
– Tableau to visualize