Monday, February 04, 2008
I have a graduate degree in creative writing, specifically a double degree in poetry and playwriting. This degree equipped me to teach other students and to write poetry and plays, none of which pays much. I began graduate school in computer science, right at the start of Microsoft and Silicon Valley. Had I completed my degree in computer science I would not be 1) writing this blog and 2) refinancing my house to pay for my kidsâ€™ college. I tell you this not because I want to elicit your sympathies but to illustrate that we donâ€™t always make our choices based on the most reasonable options. I ended up choosing writing because I love it, even though I knew it wouldnâ€™t pay.
The same can be said for our kids choosing select soccer. All the time I hear parents talking about their child succeeding at soccer to the point that they will get a college scholarship. If thatâ€™s anyoneâ€™s motivation for playing soccer, then I suggest you do a quick cost/benefit analysis. For the very few who will be lucky enough to acquire a full or nearly full scholarship to college there are 1000 players who will get a small partial scholarship and another 4000 who wonâ€™t get anything.
Soccer is classified as an â€œequivalencyâ€ sport meaning that coaches can divide their scholarships among all the players on the squad. While that is good news in the fact that most players on a soccer team can earn a scholarship, the bad news is that it will probably be about 30% of the total cost of college. Coaches will work to develop a scholarship package that includes academic as well as athletic money, but in the end few players get a full ride. Right now coaches have 9.9 full scholarships to work with for menâ€™s soccer and 12 for womenâ€™s soccer. With the squads reaching 30 â€“ 32 players you can quickly do the math, which is exactly what I decided to do.
Parents on the sideline often joke with one another that if they had put all the money they spent on soccer into the bank instead, they would have paid for college easily. I wondered if that were true. Here goes what I discovered for one son.
The club soccer fees for 13 years were approximately $9,000. It would have been higher but one year he played on an ethnic team and the fees were only $150. We traveled to at minimum five tournaments a year from U11 up for an average cost of $500 a weekend (if the family came along it would double) for a total of $20,000 - $35,000. Soccer uniforms and gear averaged around $300 a year for a total of $3900. Indoor soccer added $250 a year for a total of $2,000. I had no idea what to include for gas and wear and tear on the car, but I thought a total of $1700 would be fair. The grand total: $36,600 to $51,600 and that isnâ€™t even factoring in ODP and Super Y League costs (my brain is already exploding). If I invested that money in a modest CD I could probably have saved up at minimum $43,000 to $60,000. That would have covered a state school very nicely and most private schools for a year or two. So while not exactly paying for college, I can attest that itâ€™s more than my son presently has in scholarship!
Iâ€™m not advocating removing your child from youth soccer. Far from it . . . my point is that playing any sport or participating in any extra-curricular activity that can be translated into a college scholarship shouldnâ€™t be based on the goal of earning a scholarship. It should be based on the enjoyment and immediate benefits the activity provides. For our family it meant lots of weekends together in all kinds of weather sharing a common interest. It also meant the chance to visit cities we might never have considered as vacation spots and making wonderful discoveries.
Playing soccer has provided us with good friendships, fond memories, the joy of success, and the humility of defeat. You canâ€™t put a dollar amount on those benefits â€“ as the ad says they are priceless.
When Bryce was awarded a scholarship for soccer, it was definitely one of his proudest moments, but the amount of the scholarship didnâ€™t define his pride. Being recruited and wanted by a college soccer team was reward enough. Keeping that in perspective helps me when I have to write that check for tuition and room and board. He plays soccer because it is his passion, and thatâ€™s reason enough to keep playing.