Youth hockey: expensive, priceless

March 9, 2016

Times have certainly changed from the days of playing competitive hockey on outdoor rinks and in local arenas within a youth house-league system.

Youth hockey today is more about rep teams and academies and even at the house-league level, there is out-of-town travel and multiple tournaments that add to the cost of playing what has become a very-expensive activity.

I have read in national publications that parents would be better off taking the money they spend on their kids for hockey and putting it away in an education fund.

Which is a nice thought but really, I don’t think all parents put their kids in hockey because they believe they are going to make a living from the game.

While there are some parents who are “living the dream” that their kids are headed to the Ontario Hockey League or on scholarship to the United States and then to the professional ranks — and indeed, some are — I would say most dads and moms have very-different objectives for putting their boys and girls into the game.

To most parents, hockey is a way for their kids to make friends and grow physically and mentally while learning about sportsmanship and being competitive while part of a team structure.

Lessons learned as youngsters can lead to opportunity as adults and healthy friendships made as a youngsters can enhance positive stimulation, growth and maturity.

Is hockey an expensive sport?

It sure can be, with the average cost to play sanctioned, rep hockey in Sault Ste. Marie (for example) at about $5,000 a year, depending on the level.

But I have young nieces still in elementary school who dance competitively and I have been told by their parents that the cost for that activity is just as expensive as hockey.

To many parents, putting their kids in hockey is done for the same reasons as putting them in dance or gymnastics or swimming.

It’s all about physical activity, growth, competition and making friends in a controlled, supervised, healthy setting.

Expensive, yes.

But priceless, at the same time.

What you think about “Youth hockey: expensive, priceless”

  1. It is all about the way one percieves the expense that goes with putting their child in hockey. In my case it has been $$$$$ well spent. Our kids are in an activity that is both organized and structured .. And not only that being busy with Hockey keeps them off the streets and out of the Mall. Also the comparison to the other Activities is well put by you Randy. Good read!!

  2. Yes. Comparative Cheerleading for my daughter was actually more money than playing in a Rep A Girls league in Hamilton. Lots of bucks ☺

  3. Good article Randy. I believe that the “physical activity, growth and relationships that are made in a controlled, supervised, healthy setting” you speak of can also be found at the non “travel” level at a considerable cost savings.

    1. Thanks “Joe” and I believe it is the right of the parents to make whatever call their child is capable of and/or wants.

  4. Good comparasons made and food for thought.
    Kid’s activities are for the most part EXPENSIVE. Hockey seems to be no more expensive than some of the others that are played at the “Competitive” level.

  5. My son traveled in Rep Hockey for five years, and those were the best years and worth every penny, he had structure, discipline, and learned how to behave with other kids and adults. i never worried about him at home or on the road and now that he is an adult man, it made him the good man he is today. We live in Northern Ontario of course we will pay more than people living in the south that can travel 45 minutes to a tournament every weekend. When my son traveled those trips were our Punta Cana and Mexico trips and i would not give those times up for anything, I was with good friends and family………….thats what it is all about……….. Sometimes I think its not really about cost, its just about parents not getting to make all the decisions when they reach a certain age, face it parents your kids are growing up , and you may find as i did its a lot cheaper with those groups than it is with the younger groups, I know I did……………

  6. Randy: Your article is something that I have been asked about so many times. Most players and families certainly realize and have no aspirations for a professional career and making a living from the game. Some definitely will but the numbers are so small and so far between that we should look and consider why it is wise to be a part of our great game. Hockey helps develop a well rounded person who has the ability to work and be a part of a team ( so important in adulthood ). The lessons learned along with the friendships made definitely enhance maturity and growth. Families also benefit with being a part of the team. They work and develop life long friendships. As a former secondary school principal, I see how involvement in activities like hockey help develop young people who will become solid citizens and leaders in the future. They have no time to get into trouble and we usually see better results at school both in and out of the classroom. As for cost, your example is right on. Like you, I have 4 granddaughters in elementary school who are competitive dancers. They are also involved with piano and music activities. The cost just for their dancing activities surpasses any minor hockey cost. I often joke with my daughters that I wished they had selected hockey because it is not as expensive.You summed it up nicely with your statement ” It’s all about physical activity, growth, competition and making friends in a controlled, supervised healthy setting “. Yes, it can be expensive and yes, some have problems and concerns with the cost. I’m pleased to see how our Hockey Canada Foundation, through the “Dreams Come True Program “, assists families who need some support to keep their children involved. I recently participated in Espanola where this program assisted 40 young people and their families. It was truly wonderful to see what the game meant to them. Thanks Randy for your comments. Let’s keep playing.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Joe Drago is the Chairman of the Board for Hockey Canada.

  7. I think no one goes into rep hockey blind. There should be no surprises when a player commits to a team regarding expectations, commitment or costs. Can things be better, of course. I know when my kid played at the Atom & Pee Wee level they got a lot of ice and they did it fairly cheaply by getting sponsors and fundraising. Every little but helps.

    For all the nay-sayers that like to hide behind a computer, I suggest they shut up and volunteer. Most want to coach & association bash based on how their child is effected (very small point of focus and one that is totally inward and self serving) but no one will commit to helping the cause, and this goes for both real associations in SSM. (The non sanctioned mess is for profit despite what they say as they pay coaches, pay for their building upkeep, pay for staff etc)

    If you don’t like the decisions being made get involved. Use less of your BS mouth and more of your brains and time to help make the changes you feel are required to better all the kids. Don’t say it’s a closed group, ask and they will find a spot for you or make sure you have an opportunity to get involved by being voted in at the AGM if the intentions are right and not self serving.

    My kid went through the rep system and I agree with Al, I wouldn’t change the decision other than look for ways to bring the costs down and let my kid stay with me. (13 yr olds should not be staying alone ).

    My two cents worth

  8. It,s about the moment not the future , I know from experience their,s no pot at the end of the rainbow for all,, been chasing the grandson around for three years 04,S APROX 5-6 thou a year, don’t regret a penny of it , just to see the team and their progress over that time has been phenomenal ,,seven winter prior(Florida,Texas, Arizona) …….Don’t miss it,,…will miss the hockey some day , ENJOY FOLKS,,,,,

  9. Wouldn’t do it again. not that I didn’t enjoy it all these years…’s the political aspect that gets to me. And don’t fool yourselves, it is not becoming a rich mans sport……it is. Head to any major junior camp and observe the parking lot.

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