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The City Journals

The Price Of Talent

Aug 10, 2015 10:43AM ● By Bryan Scott

Is the price we pay for sports worth the reward?

By Kaleb Loftus

Many parents dream of the day that their kid takes the high school team to the state championship or wins that college scholarship, but how much are they willing to pay for it? The cost of youth sports are rising and the commitment and sacrifice to play increases with the money.

Matt and Tina Jensen, residents of South Jordan and parents of aspiring athletes, have felt the financial pressure from the rising youth prices. “In just the past three years the prices have doubled from when one kid plays to when the next reaches that level,” Tina said.

But will it ever reach a point that the price to have kids succeed will exceed parent’s wallet size? The Jensens worry that this will be soon for them if the prices continue to go up and their kids choose to still play. 

The sport in the Jensen home is soccer. Matt has been passionate for the game his entire life and that passion has been passed on to his sons, and they aren’t just passionate, they’re good. Their oldest son is one of the top players for an elite club for his age group.

“The talent development in the competition level is much higher than that in rec soccer,” Matt said. Matt is an assistant coach with his son’s team and believes that paying the extra money is well worth it. “We’re hoping that eventually it will pay off during high school and ultimately lead to a college scholarship,” he said. 

The idea of a child turning into an investment isn’t uncommon in today’s youth sports-oriented culture. The idea of spending so much now doesn’t seem as bad when a kid excels and parents look at college costs and wonder if, just maybe, their kid could be the one to win a scholarship.

Tina stressed though that she is more worried about the values and lessons her children are learning than anything else. “We’ve been blessed with very good coaches who teach great values. And they’re learning to work with a team, be a leader and be disciplined. And that’s what is most important to me for them.” 

The prices have risen and what the parents want most is to be educated. Matt and Tina know very little about where their funds actually go. Instead of just a sentence saying, “Registration Fee”, “Jersey Fee” or “Coaching Fee” they would feel better if they knew exactly why the price is what it is. 

The Jensen’s story isn’t unique. Families across the community deal with the same problem, torn between scrimping and saving and seeing their kid excel in the sports realm. Playing a sport opens doors, teaches lessons and creates friends. But it also may stretch each dollar bill as far as it can go.

The Jensens, like all parents just want what is best for their children. They have been impressed with the clubs and coaches they’ve worked with and if it wasn’t that way they’d consider trying to find an alternative route.  But for now, the Jensens feel that what is best for their kids is to pay the extra money.  “We try to do our best and just let our kids do their best,” Tina said.