The Money World of Youth Sports


Joey Fentress

Why are kids quitting?

If you are an athlete who has a desire to continue playing in college then there are some things that are almost necessary in order for that to happen. Outside practice and commitment is something that is 100% necessary in order to succeed. A lot of athletes dedicate themselves to a club for practice and training, but how much do these clubs really do? Using baseball as a reference, a club will usually have a few teams for each age group. The Club usually has what’s considered their “top” team. The so-called top team is the team that will have the most amount of talent or skill. This is the team that the organization will want to have on full display for college scouts and coaches to watch. Because of the amount of talent and experience this team has, coaches tend to sway towards them in a way. Coaches will focus or shift their attention towards helping and bettering the players on the top team rather than having an equal focus spread. This uneven spread leaves a hole for the athletes on the lower team. The players who have the most room to grow and improve don’t get the help they need. 


The youth sports industry is one of the most expensive markets in today’s world. With a 90% increase in the net worth of youth sports since 2010, the industry is now worth around $19 billion dollars. Youth sports has become one of the most “money grab” industries today. The average cost of one club highschool baseball season is around $4,000. With adding in equipment and travel fees, it adds up to a lot. With the average family, $4,000 plus adds up to quite a big sacrifice. What makes it even less worth the splurge is when you don’t even get everything you pay for. When you play for one of the lower teams you essentially pay for the top team and their experience. While you do get some benefits for just paying, the majority of your money spent isn’t used on yourself. The money you pay will go towards benefitting the top team and their experience. When you pay for a club, you are told that the coaches will work with you and help you be the best possible player you can be. From personal experience, this is not true. The majority of club coaches do not evenly focus their attention on the players who need it. The people who run the club do not care about the lower teams nearly as much as the top team. 


Clubs operate as a business at the end of the day. Their goal is to make as much money as possible. With the ability to essentially “grab” players who are less talented and use them as a money generator, it ruins the hope and dream some of these players have. The dream of playing collegiate sports. The dream is flushed away because of players who are just naturally better at a younger age. Because these players on the top team are better, they get the most amount of attention from the organization. 


There’s many ways you could bring back the old way that sports used to be. The most compelling idea is for clubs to not be money centered. Because of the skyrocket increase in the net worth of youth sports in the past decade, money has become the number one contributing factor to whether or not you have a roster spot or not. Although there are times where you must be serious during a game, clubs need to bring back the fun of the sports. Keep the youth interested in the sport. A club needs to get their coaches to give their attention to everyone, not just the top team. By giving everyone the attention they pay for, all players will improve, not just the ones who were genetically gifted at a young age and were able to quickly stand out from the rest.