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Parents Paying More For Kids To Play Sports

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- If you have kids, you know how expensive it can be to raise them but many parents are shelling out more money than ever to pay for their kids to play.

For instance, a spot in the high school marching band can cost $1,000 a year. Specialized clinics to earn a pitching title can cost $90 a class and dances class costumes can cost nearly $100 for a costume worn once.

While the memories may be priceless, the amount you pay to play isn't.

Just ask Karen LaFlamme who pays for two children to play sports.

"For Chantal's swimming, it cost approximately $4 thousand a year," LaFlamme explained.

For her son Andre, it's about $3,700 for baseball. He's got a new $300 bat and the family pays for traveling expenses, gate fees and hotel bills.

Experts say some parents are now shelling out up to a thousand dollars a month, and that's just for one child and one sport.

Why such a high price to play?

"There is constantly more demand than facilities available and therefore drives the price of facility use up and secondarily insurance provided by the youth sports program," explained Jon Butler, Executive Director Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc.

Butler said 40-percent of families participating in extracurricular activities don't have medical insurance, forcing the organizations to provide coverage.

Another factor driving up costs is the elite level of coaching and play demanded by parents who are more competitive than ever.

"I think there is a whole societal issue now of parents who have grown up and are successful and want nothing but the best for their child," said Butler.

Soccer coach Jim Caruso agreed.

"I know kids and have friends that have kids who travel all over the U.S. to play," said Caruso of Future Soccer Stars Academy.

"It's no longer just volunteers doing the coaching, either. Highly paid assistants are brought in to help out.

There's also an increase in pricey high tech gear.

Trainers prefer $300 bats to the $20 models and coaches say $40 swimsuits don't compare to the $250 version.

But experts say don't invest until you know your child hits that elite level and loves the sport.

Buy used equipment at thrift stores and franchise outlets.

Ask about scholarships.

Try community-based programs for new sports for your child.

Karen's kids love their sport, and although she doesn't like the hit her bank account is taking, she sees the benefits of her kids participating.

"I want both my kids to be well-rounded and you know I think sports play an important part of that," said LaFlamme.

Here's another saving tip. Ask about sibling discounts because most programs offer them.

If your child is involved in a community based program, the uniform is more than likely included in the registration cost.

Parents usually have to pay extra for a pair of athletic shoes.


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