Looking For the Best Value in Kid's Sports
When I was a kid I was signed up for so many different activities it's a wonder my homework ever got done. Whether it was making sure I wasn't "up to no good" or just a way of exhausting me so I was out of their hair at a reasonable hour, my parents were diligent in introducing me to sports and activities from a young age.
I want my kids to benefit from organized physical activity and the camaraderie that comes with being on a team or pursuing a sport. I am all-too-aware though that organized games for Johnny means less cash for Mommy so it is with this thought in mind I go searching for the best value in kids' sports.
It's our national obsession and an integral part of the Canadian mythology but it's more expensive than heating your house in winter. Don't get me wrong, I love hockey and I know many of my kids' friends will play at least house league at some point in the next few years but with registration costs close to $500 a season and new equipment costing upwards of $1000, it's hard to argue that you'll get your money's worth. Plus, because it's a shift sport, they'll only see 15 minutes of the game a week. If they show a real interest in playing in a league I will oblige but until then I will be re-reading the kid's classic The Hockey Sweater to them, emphasizing the glory of the outdoor pond.
Value: Not greatMartial arts
Team sports are great for developing social skills but individual disciplines teach kids that they can take on a challenge and complete it on their own. Karate, Tae Kwon Do and other martial arts build self reliance and problem solving and will do wonders for your child's confidence. Good classes aren't cheap though, running $700-$1000 per year.
Value: Not bad
It's darling to see your little girl in a tutu and point shoes but ballet is another activity that can teach both girls and boys self-discipline and control. Ballet's also terrific for building up strength and agility. Classes can range from about $200 for 15 weeks if you choose a smaller studio to around $600 for 30 weeks if you choose a nationally renowned dance school.
Value: Pretty good
I'm willing to bet that soccer claims the title of "national sport" before my days are done. Participation is huge and the risk of concussion and other serious injury seems pretty low, plus it improves basic coordination and builds teamwork skills.
If your kid's any good, for about $300 a season (a little less for winter indoor leagues), they get to run around for 90 minutes a game and dream of making millions in La Liga. If not, they'll learn the finer points of cutting oranges for the halftime snack.
Value: Pretty great
In terms of teaching kids team skills and building up strength and speed it's hard to beat rugby. What, to the outsider's eye may appear to be a mass of bodies pushing and hacking at each other is actually a pretty intricate display. There's a position on the team for every body type and, unlike football, the risk of serious injury is pretty low. Plus, younger kids play a non-contact "flag" version of the game until they're a little older. While it's a seasonal sport (North American season runs May-September, typically) at about $200 for junior registration, which includes two practices and one game every week, the price is right.