SCBlueLiner wrote:We are our own worst enemies when we talk about the cost to play hockey. When recruiting it's the first objection we get because the perception is out there that it costs so much to play. Truth is that hockey, while expensive, is not much different than any other travel sports these days, or dance, ballet, cheer, etc. Actually, I am surprised at the reasonable cost of high quality hockey equipment these days. Years ago when I played equipment was expensive (given inflation). Today you can get mid to low-level equipement that is much better than anything I ever had. You can also spend a ton of $$, but that is an individual choice.
The cheapest sports I can think of for my son to participate in are youth football (and we all know how that sport is trending), rec baseball, and rec soccer. Notice the rec part in those sports. Travel soccer, baseball, travel anything costs money.
Kids are expensive. I think we all know this.
While today's mid- to low-level equipment may be better quality than the best available twenty or thirty years ago, it is still mid- to low-level relative to what is available today. And as your kids get older, and if/when they make youth "A" teams or high school rosters, the pressure to put the same high-end stick in their hands that everyone else on the team is using is intense. You can say that it is an individual choice, but take a close look at the skates and sticks out on the ice during high school game warm-ups...you'll be hard-pressed to see anyone playing with blue light specials.
You can't ignore fundamental economics. The cost of renting a school gym for an hour-long practice is four or five times less than the cost of an hour of ice. The most expensive pair of basketball shoes for sale on the foot locker web site is $275. While a high quality baseball bat will cost as much as a high-end hockey stick, Easton offers a 1-year warranty on their bats, but only a 30-day warranty on their sticks.
Some may be quick to note that many/most youth hockey associations are willing to work with families going through financial difficulties. The problem there is getting those families that need the help to be willing to ask for it. It certainly doesn't help when that request has to be made to a fellow parent who is treasurer of the local association or high school booster club.
As for travel team costs in other sports...yes, kids are expensive, and there are some youth activities that are more expensive than hockey. The difference, in my opinion, is that private gymnastic clubs and dance studios have always been beyond the reach of blue-collar family incomes. The reason why we are the State of Hockey is that the sport has been played by blue-collar family kids, and has been an option for almost every family budget. It'll be a sad day when that's no longer the case, and when the best financial argument that can be made to take up the sport is that it's no more expensive than ballet.
Froggy Richards wrote: Yes, registration fees are higher but look what you get out of it compared to those other sports. An entire MN winter full of fun, friends and life lessons. The whole hockey being super expensive thing is mostly just false perception. Everything has a cost-benefit. Hockey is well worth it.
It is easier to make that cost-benefit decision when you played the game yourself, and when you've grown up in the State. The demographics aren't favorable when you look at the young families in (and moving into) Minnesota. And saying "look what you get out of it in comparison" can be 100% true but still not make a difference. You can just as easily say "Yes, the cost of a new Mercedes is higher, but look what you get out of it compared to those other cars.
To bring this rant closer back to my original post, the biggest risk to the Tourney and MN high school hockey isn't that we're losing our best players to Ann Arbor or juniors. The biggest risk to our sport is that we are losing the state's best athletes to other sports, way back at the start of the pipeline.