The Economy of Youth Sports

While a large number of children and young people battle with obesity, millions of children stay fit and in good health by engaging in sports. Organized sports, such as baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse and volleyball not only help youngsters stay in shape, but also learn teach them how to work together as a team. In addition, millions of young people who play for a sports team get the opportunity to travel to other cities.

The financial impact that organized sports teams for children and teenagers have on the United States is not easy to measure; however, this infographic aims to give individuals a glimpse into sports related expenses. While obvious expenses such as equipment and uniforms are included, there are also other related expenses shown that most people do not generally think about.

Related program: B.S. in Sport Management

UF Online Infographic: The Economy of Youth Sports

Add This Infographic to Your Site

Copy and paste the text above to include this infographic on your website.

How Many Young People Play Sports?

It has been estimated that about 45 million children and young people play some form of organized sports. About 20 million of these individuals play in organized, out of school sports clubs while the other 25 million play for official school sports teams.

Sports-Related Costs

Playing sports is not an inexpensive activity. It has been estimated that the average family spends about $670 per year on sports related activities. In all, American parents spend $5 billion every single year for sports equipment, uniforms and fees.

As more and more schools institute Pay to Play programs, the amount spent on sports is likely to rise. At present, parents whose child or children are enrolled in such a program pay about $380 per child, per semester. However, over 50% of parents whose schools do not offer Pay to Play programs still in many cases have to pay an extra fee for their child’s engagement in sports.

Naturally, the cost of playing a particular sport depends in large part on what sport is being played. The cost of the most popular sports activities for young people has steadily risen over the course of the last year. Baseball is by far the most expensive sport, followed by basketball, ice hockey, football, lacrosse and soccer. Expenses range from nearly $620 million a year to $90 million a year.

Other Related Expenses

While these figures seem quite large, it is important to bear in mind that there are other expenses related to allowing children to play organized sports either in school or out of school. Medical expenses for the treatment of sports injuries come to over $930 million per year. Those who travel to another city to see their youngsters compete against another team also have to spend a considerable amount of money on food, fuel or airplane tickets, accommodations, etc. In fact, travel expenses alone come to a whopping $7 billion per year.

Other Facts and Figures

It is interesting to note that children and young people are not the only ones who enjoy traveling to a new city. Many parents and other relatives who go to a new city to watch their favorite sports team wind up recommending the city to others. What is more, nearly 60% of parents wind up returning to the city for a vacation while close to 20% of individuals seriously consider buying a second home in the city in question.

Naturally, cities that host children’s and young people’s organized sporting events on a regular basis greatly benefit from sports related tourism. The hotel industry in particular gets a great boost from this form of tourism, as accommodations is the greatest expense for traveling sports players and their parents.

Cities that have noteworthy sports facilities for children and young people include Blaine, Minnesota; Kingsport, Tennessee; Branson, Missouri; Carmel, Indiana and Greenville, South Carolina. Blaine is home to the National Sports Center, which is widely viewed as a model for other sports facilities for youngsters throughout the country. Kingsport has hosted sports competitions for children and young people since 1989 while Branson aims to put itself on the map by building an enormous baseball complex with sixteen large baseball fields. Carmel is also getting in on the action by building a large multi-use sports complex while Greenville already hosts up to one hundred tournaments a year, earning up to $10 million in sports-related tourism revenue yearly.


While it certainly costs a great deal of money to have a child join an organized sports teams, the benefits can be more than worth it. Organized sports benefit not only kids but also whole industries that rely on the funds generated in order to operate and provide jobs to others. All told, sports have much to offer kids, parents and the economy at large