Additionally, if your athlete is on a really top team, chances are that team is not located in your neighborhood, so you even have to TRAVEL 3 or 4 times per week just for PRACTICE. In the club that my youngest plays soccer, there are countless kids who drive (actually they are driven) 2 to 3 hours each way, for practice (how the parents got that dedicated and can afford that much time in a car is stuff for another post). Even competitive cheerleading is that competitive; the gym I work out in has a competitive cheerleading program and there are some kids that live 2-3 hours from the gym and practice 4X/week here (I really must get a thesaurus….feel free to replace some of my competitives with: elite, high level, serious, top level, premier, travel, crème de la crème, whatever your local dialect calls for).
Don’t forget the other people (coaches, trainers, referees, etc) who have to drive or fly these distances to the games and tournaments and their gas bill is ultimately paid for by the parents with team fees.
In my neck of the woods here are some of the solutions we’ve been discussing and started to put into use:
1. Carpooling—already universally used for practices, many families have begun carpooling to games and tournaments. Sometimes this means that there’s no room for Dad (or Mom), but I haven’t heard any complaining. As the kids get past about 13 or so, they’d prefer both Mom and Dad stay home; so you could end up a designated parent in an SUV with about 4 or 5 players. If you are lucky they each come with a 20 dollar bill from their parents for gas money.
2. Check out the parking lot at the games…..not so many SUVs and minivans this year, huh? Not a single Hummer in sight at practice tonight. I’ve traded my SUV for a hybrid car…lucky we just happened to have one in driveway. Oh wait….that was a dream, dang. Well, I’m hoping to soon (right after winning the lottery next week).
3. I’ve heard it suggested, but yet to see it come to fruition, that some leagues may go back to scheduling 2 games in one day (for soccer and baseball anyway) so we (parents, coaches and officials) only have to drive to the field once per weekend.
4. Some families have decided to move their kids to a league closer to home even if the level of competition and coaching is not quite as high as they would like.
5. Clubs and teams have been making decisions to forgo certain tournaments and competitions, focusing on either on those closest to home or the most important. I personally am thrilled with this one, I’ve saved a good bit of $$ on hotels also, this summer.
6. A few parents are choosing to forgo certain competitions or games. Not so popular with the other parents and coach, though. Last minute replacements, smaller bench, and position switching is stressful on the whole team. But….ya gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes, right? If it comes to that though, I recommend seeing #1 above and sending your kid (and some cash) with another family so you don’t break his heart and make yourself the parent that becomes the focus of the weekends sideline gossip.
GOOD LUCK to all and may all your hybrid car dreams come true (Toyota Prius if we need to get specific).