Pay to play: Cost of kids’ extracurricular sports

Everyone wins in the $15 billion youth sports economy.

Two-sport “star,” my grandson, Kingston, shooting a basketball during a recent game.
Nine-year-old Kingston on first base during recent game.

Parents are shelling out billions of dollars annually for their kids to play sports. In this “pay to play” society, the U.S. government and private organizations find that the youth sports industry is estimated to be a $15 billion industry.

During a recent @walbtv show, The Breakdown, I provided financial insight on costs associated with children’s sports and also briefly discussed the economic benefits of that community’s homecoming celebrations.


Baseball $659.96
Basketball $426.78
Bicycling $1,011.61
Cross country $420.86
Field hockey $2,124.62
Flag football $268.46
Tackle football $484.57
Golf $925.38
Gymnastics $1,580.28
Ice hockey $2,582.74
Lacrosse $1,289.22
Martial arts $776.51
Skateboarding $380.02
Skiing/Snowboarding $2,248.84
Soccer $536.90
Softball $612.83
Swimming $786.03
Tennis $1,170.09
Track & field $191.34
Volleyball $595.49
Wrestling $476.45
Other sports $1,233.30
Source: Aspen Institute

As a former “Soccer Mom” — aka basketball, baseball, track, golf, skiing, goalball and band Mom — of three children and now as a grandmother of young athletes and scholars, I know well that many businesses that benefit from children’s sports such as:

Sporting goods stores (gear, etc.)

Grocery stores (snacks and drinks per game)

Restaurants (teams’ celebrations)

Trophy stores (ribbons, plaques)

Private coaches

Clinics and camps

Specialized training centers

Gaming centers

Colleges and universities

My granddaughter, Kaidence, a soccer player and extracurricular math and science participant, poses with her favorite Florida State University goalie Brooke Bollinger, during a recent mini-camp.

Prayer pouch with a purpose

I was in that place. I was a “baby Christian” as my Atlanta area pastor used to call us who stayed in the same spot without spiritual growth.

I was wrongly speaking aloud about another one of those”worse year of my life” moments when my mother gave me a colorful cloth pouch.

I didn’t go to church with her. I told Mom that I had too many things to sort out and that no one would miss me if I did not attend that day’s service. I also told her earlier that I needed additional funds to repair my vehicle and honor the medical co-payments related to my youngest son’s blindness. I was asking for patience, peace and a semblance of a so-called normal life. It was a too-often state-of-mind for me. I craved a change. That was in 1994.

My mother returned from church and was talking over me about how I should place photos, notes with my hopes and dreams, receipts and faith examples of any type. I tried to again interrupt my mother with my lengthy list of needs. I gave up and decided to try her way. After all, I had nothing to lose.

Nothing to lose: That’s a great place for spiritual interference to enter the room. I found myself clinging to the pouch like it was a necessary hand bag or makeup carrier. I still stuff the pouch today with items that are disparate and have individual meanings to me. The remembrances evoke tears, smiles and frowns from the stuffed away memories of the good in my life and the fears.

Several years ago, I heard a sermon by Dr. Barbara King, founder and senior pastor of Atlanta’s Hillside Chapel & Truth Center, about temporary possessions we give power to in place of the real power source — God, Allah and other deities. She spoke of a rabbit’s foot and other items deemed lucky by its owners. Dr. Barbara — as she is known — told the congregation to use until they could gain strength in trusting the true source.

I was in that place. I was a “baby Christian” as my Atlanta area pastor used to call us who stayed in the same spot without spiritual growth. Dr. Leon Hollinshed was among those kind individuals who helped me to get to my greatest place. For that, I am grateful to him and so many others who stood in the gap with prayers during the year my youngest son became blind and our world became a shadow of its former place.

Since 1994, I’ve cherished memories from some funeral programs, happy and encouraging notes, photos of my children in their early years, an usher pin, an airline ticket, donation receipts, name badges and encouraging letters and notes from family members and now deceased friends.

Connect the dots

1. Even if you don’t feel like it, graciously accept a gift of encouragement.

2. Listen to the still, small voice and act accordingly.

3. Believe in prayer.

4. Do something to honor your gifts. I write thank yous to folk who have extended kindness to my family and me.

My ‘pre-existing’ experience: Ailing prognosis on Trump Administration’s new medical listing

In 1986 when my twin son was a few months old, he was refused coverage by our medical insurance company because he had a pre-existing condition. As a result, the Atlanta neurologist who — bi-weekly — reviewed and offered diagnosis for our son based on his EEG lab work, always provided us with a per visit invoice of $1,000.00.

Being denied medical care in the United States because of pre-existing conditions or due to stiff insurance premium hikes, is wrong.

It was wrong in 1986. It is wrong in 2017.  John Kimbrough had a pre-existing condition. His birth caused a severe umbilical hernia.  Upon his delivery by C-Section, the first born of the twins was  whisked away from the delivery room due to my high risk pregnancy and anticipated difficult birth. The second twin, Jocelyn, was born with respiratory issues that were resolved within minutes.

John was fortunate. A surgeon who specialized in intestinal procedures with infants, missed his flight home to Asia and was on-call when John arrived in the surgical room. John lived and his surgery that resulted in a star placed where his belly button should be, has been a blessing. Now nearing 31 years of age,  John is a young man who withstood bacterial meningitis at age 3 months that resulted in Petit Mal seizures, which left him with partial hearing loss and ultimately, he completely lost his eye sight.

When John’s sight completely left his last functioning eye, we took him to the hospital and after review of his case, we were called into a room with two hospital administrators.  They told us that it we would have to provide the hospital with a $1,000.00 cash deposit on John’s surgery to hopefully repair the sight in his right eye. We didn’t immediately have it. Once we produced the money — three days later — the Atlanta hospital scheduled the surgery. Who knows if John had the surgery immediately upon his blindness if he would be able to see today? Yet, today, John bravely begins the full evaluation of a kidney transplant operation. Soon, his older brother, twin sister, father and me along with other family and friends will learn if we are the perfect match for John’s kidney transplant procedure.

My vision dimmed as I contemplated John’s future that would include paying out of pocket for his health care.  It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

I praised the passage of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  It allowed everyone access to affordable health care. Today, I loudly condemn the repeal of ACA by the recent U.S. House approval. Its repeal allows insurance carriers to determine (again) if patients are outright denied coverage or have to pay higher premiums for pre-existing medical conditions. The bi-partisan list of pre-existing conditions causes my skin to crawl and tears well in my eyes. One denial is too many. How dare the ill-advised Congress determine the life and death of thousands of our Americans by their vote? Whether fully denied coverage or huge hikes in health care premiums result from what could be the Senate’s passage of the Obamacare repeal, this messing-with the Obamacare health care law is a political debacle.

Looking forward to the U.S. Senate rejecting the bill. For more facts on this matter, see