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Frosted Flakes: Youth Sports, Nebraska Space Bread, and Plastic Wrap World Record

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Families can spend more money on youth sports than they can recoup through the college scholarship they are chasing

MLS: Orlando City SC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

We have often clipped articles about how youth sports have gotten out of control - parents attacking each other at soccer games for 6 year olds, kids having to decide which sport to specialize in before they even enter kindergarten, shortages of officials who don’t want to put up with the abuse they receive...

Many of these stories seem to be related to the desire for a child to earn a college scholarship. The chance to get a free or partially paid education is a powerful motivator, especially when you look at the statistics on student loan debt.

If college scholarships are the end game (and youth sports are about much more than that) then many parents end up disappointed. Only 2% of university students are on athletic scholarships. The costs for many youth programs, especially elite ones, add up fast. Many families would be better off putting the money spent into a college savings plan and sign up their precious darling for teams in their local communities than to spend oodles of money in pursuit of a college scholarship.

Families spend freely to gain edge in travel sports | State AP - SD | yankton.net
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — For Dale and Amy Uttecht, guiding two sons through the competitive world of youth travel sports meant sacrificing a few things along the way.

I’m not advocating for an end to elite programs or saying all families need to abandon this path. I am also well aware that low-stakes local sports still can bring out the worst in some parents. I just found it interesting that the cottage industry of elite clubs, camps and recruiting rankings, private lessons, high end equipment, etc. has reached a point where people will essentially gamble their disposable income on an uncertain outcome (the athletic scholarship) when the better bet would be to save that money instead.

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