Not All Fun and Games: The Benefits and Hidden Costs of School Sports Programs

Community Manager
Community Manager


(UPDATED 10/2020)


By Steve Jacobs


October is the only month in which all four major professional sports leagues are in season. All of this action might inspire your kids to play sports at school. And that’s great!


There are plenty of reasons why enrolling your children in a sports program can be beneficial. As with many things, there are multiple factors to consider to ensure a winning experience for everyone involved.


Let’s get the bad news out of the way up front: These programs can be expensive.


“For me, as a parent, the cost is always something that is a concern,” says Sean Scaturro, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM practitioner and USAA advice director. “It’s not unrealistic to expect that, as the parent of a third- or fourth-grade student playing soccer, you might spend $2,000 to $3,000 a year. If you’re talking dance or gymnastics, you can double that.”


These high entry costs may seem prohibitive, especially if your children consider this more of a hobby than something that will be further developed down the line or profited from in some way.


There’s also the issue of making sure you have good medical coverage. After all, kids are less likely to get injured if they’re at home or participating in less vigorous activities.


“The more people on your plan, the more they use it, the more your risk factor statistically goes up,” Scaturro says.


You want your kids to be able to participate without worrying about the looming financial barrier of pain or injury. Injuries like broken bones may become more commonplace, and they’re not cheap. According to, the average uninsured medical cost for a broken arm is around $16,000, for reference. There are also the required physicals and checkups.


Costs aside, Scaturro supports the idea of after-school sports: “As a parent as well as a financial planner, it makes good sense to put your kids in something that may raise their self-esteem and promote physical health.”


And those benefits are far from the only ones that children gain in these programs. Leadership skills, personal development, socialization and confidence may also improve through organized sports. There are also the important lessons of putting in time and energy toward a goal and understanding sacrifice, especially for sports that have huge commitments.


At the end of the day, it’s a balancing act. You want your children to have opportunities, but you don’t want to sacrifice other things financially by reflexively saying “yes” to your kids’ requests. It’s important to know what your limits are and to stay within that range.



Are you looking to boost your medical coverage to make sure your kids are covered? See what plans USAA offers.



This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered advice, a solicitation, a recommendation, or an offer to buy any specific plan or product. This should not be used as the primary basis for making your decision. USAA encourages you to consider your needs when selecting products and does not make specific product recommendations for individuals. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment.


Health insurance solutions provided through USAA Life General Agency, Inc. (LGA) (known in CA and NY as USAA Health and Life Insurance Agency), which acts as an agent for select insurance companies to provide products to USAA members. LGA representatives are salaried and receive no commissions. However, LGA receives compensation from those companies, which may be based on the total quantity and quality of insurance coverage purchased through LGA. Plans not available in all states. Each company has sole financial responsibility for its own products.



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