8/7/2012 5:32 PM ET|
What it costs to raise an Olympian
Costs for training, travel and supplies can run the tab up as high as 6 figures. Being an Olympic athlete isn’t cheap, but for those who make the team, it’s worth every penny.
Training costs for U.S. Olympic rowing hopeful Gevvie Stone, 27, have been comparatively low because of her late entry into the sport. Some families spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The bill for getting your first-grader to the Olympics will probably be somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000.
Or you can go all out in a sport like dressage or table tennis, and spend $400,000 or so. That's right, $400,000. And that's right, too: pingpong.
That's what it costs right now. There's no telling what the bill will add up to if your child doesn't make the team until, say, 2024 or later. But take it from those who have made, or are making, the sacrifice: It will be worth it.
"It has been worth every penny and all the time invested," said Debbie Jones of Apple Valley, Minn. "The memories and experiences are priceless. To help your children attain their goals is truly a blessing."
Jones estimates she has spent $50,000 since her son Tyus was in the first grade, for him to attend camps and clinics and play basketball with kids who are at least two years older.
And it's not over yet.
Tyus is only 16, and his mother estimates she will spend an additional $10,000 in the next two years as he continues working toward his goals of playing Division I college basketball, getting into the NBA and earning a spot on the Olympic basketball team.
He's well on his way:
- ESPN ranks him third in the 2014 class.
- He played on the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Under-17 World Championships in Lithuania and on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the FIBA Americas Under-16 Championship in Mexico.
- He was the 2012 Gatorade Player of the Year for Minnesota and has numerous recognitions in his high school conference and his home state.
He has offers from more than 10 first-division colleges, and when the scholarships start coming in, Debbie Jones may get a break. As young athletes get into the upper levels of their sports, parents can expect some relief as the sports' governing bodies start picking up more of the costs.
A long and pricey road
But until then, the parents or the athletes themselves have to pay for special training, equipment, league fees and the really big expense: travel.
"Since second grade I would estimate traveling expenses for Tyus to be around $30,000, including car, airfare and hotels," said Jones.
Toss in $5,000 more for equipment.
"At younger ages, it would be a couple hundred dollars a year. The older he gets, the more expensive the shoes and the more he needs."
Then there are league fees.
According to Jones: "About $160 a season for high school fees, eighth to 10th grades; summer and fall leagues $250 a year, also eighth to 10th grades; $350 for winter fees, second to seventh grades; $450 for younger Amateur Athletic Union fees, second to seventh grades; and $2,900 for older AAU traveling fees, eighth to 10th grades."
Most coaching costs for Tyus have been included in the camp and league fees, and he has a 26-year-old brother who graduated with a degree in health and exercise science who takes care of the training at home.
None of Jones' calculations accounts for the money spent for her and other family members to travel to Tyus' games, including to Lithuania for the Under-17 World Championships. Admission fees to see the games also are not included.
Jones, a paralegal, has used about $5,000 from her retirement account to help pay for family travel. She has lost some income from taking time off from work but says she has been fortunate in scheduling her vacation time around her children's sports.
Dave McPherson knows about the high cost of travel involved with athletics. His daughter, Paige, is one of the two U.S. female taekwondo athletes competing this summer at the Olympic Games in London. He estimates that travel expenses were a large share of the $5,000 to $9,000 he has spent each year since 2004 for her training.
The McPhersons live in Sturgis, S.D., and Dave said Paige had to travel constantly to find good competitors.
"Equipment and coaching expenses as well as fees are negligible in this sport and can be afforded by nearly any middle-class family," he said. "However, travel expenses . . . can be more than the average family can handle."
Johan Pao, the mother of table tennis player Erica Wu, says the family spent more than $5,000 a year on travel before getting a sponsor.
Erica is one of the three 16-year-olds from California who make up this year's U.S. female team. Pao estimates the cost of getting a child into the Olympics to be about $100,000.
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And there in a nut shell tells the story of why the U.S. is going in the tank.
Parents are stupid and they are making tons of coaches at every level rich. Youth sports is a total ponsi scheme, and the days of affordable boys and girls clubs with volunteer coaches is going away cause the "select" leauges are convincing the parents they can turn their kid into the next superstar. Youth sports should be for fun and health, but now it's "serious" bussiness, and the kids get carted around like pro's. Youth sports used to teach kids how to get along with others and helped keep them in shape and out of trouble. Now youth sports is more like a job for the kids, and they help build an OCD mind set.
Meanwhile, teachers and doctors struggle to pay their bills, and we continue to import engineers from all over the world, cause you know, instead of building minds, we put all our resources into building athletes! Great, were #1........ in sports!!! I guess the Chinese can build our roads for us soon, we'll all be too busy watching "the games"...
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