The Chicago Tribune spoke with Mark Hyman for advice on how to avoid going broke while supporting your kids' love of sports:
When Mark Hyman interviewed parents of young athletes for his book on the rising cost of youth sports, he found tales of love, dedication and massive expenditures.
"One parent told me, 'I'm spending more money on my younger son's ice hockey than I am on my older son's college tuition,'" Hyman said.
One dad, Fran Dicari, calculated that he spent $11,704 in 2011 on soccer and baseball trips, golf clubs, physical therapy, gas for getting to games and all manner of fees, uniforms and equipment for two kids.
Susie Bright, in addition to being a best-selling author, activist, and podcast host, is editor at large for Audible. Susie's blog, The Bright List, keeps readers and listeners apprised of new audiobooks.
Mark Hyman tallys the price of youth sports in the USA in dollars and lives. From equipment to private lessons, from tournament trips to MRIs, parents are bleeding themselves dry for their children’s activities.
The example of the parents who skipped health insurance payments to pay for their son’s golf lessons was shocking!
Some parents try to live their dreams through their children. They believe they're investing in their children’s future, led astray by the many corporate youth programs who tell them their kids are the next Venus & Serena Williams— they just need more lessons, more workshops, more camps.
Fine investigative journalism might make you think twice before you send your kid across the country to Lacrosse summer camp.
At what cost are we asking our kids to live out our dreams? Hard work and love of sport are one thing—but sixteen year olds, used up and limping around like old men— is quite another.
Mark Hyman examines the youth sports culture that drives kids to be "superstar" athletes at earlier and earlier ages-- starting with himself.
Hyman has been in the trenches as a "sports dad," getting heavily involved in the leagues and practices, until it became “as much a fulltime job as my fulltime job.”
I always thought the push for excellence in young players was so they could get scholarships to colleges, or into professional leagues. If their injuries make them used up before they even get there, what are we doing?
Hyman offers solutions and perspective— he knows how many people have this on their minds. I'd recommend this book to anyone with kids, especially those ferrying their kids to three kinds of practice every day of the week.
The United States Olympic team comprises 529 athletes, and it’s difficult to generalize about who they are. They represent 25 sports. They come from 44 states. The tallest is 7-foot-1. The shortest is 4-foot-11. There’s a 15-year-old swimmer and an equestrian athlete who could be her grandmother.
The parents of these athletes are equally diverse. No doubt, many are perfectly wonderful. For years, they’ve shouldered the responsibilities of sports parenthood without complaint or expectation. Some go to Olympic venues where their children are competing and hold their emotions completely in check. Others like Lynn and Rick Raisman, parents of the gymnast Aly Raisman, don’t even try. The last time I checked, video of the Raismans’ synchronized squirming had passed 100,000 views on YouTube.
Exuberant parents aren’t the problem in youth sports. Overzealous, overly ambitious parents are. Undoubtedly, they are part of the U.S. delegation too. As parents, we make a horrible mistake when we confuse our ambitions with what kids truly want and need from sports. I’ve been writing about the issue for years yet I’m still taken aback by some of the stories. A noted orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles who operates on the damaged elbows and shoulders of youth pitchers once told me of a recurring conversation he has with patients. A young person confides that he does not want an operation and would prefer to quit his sport. But he’s stuck. “I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to disappoint my parents. It’s so important to my dad.”
Extreme Olympic parenting has been well documented. In her classic book "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes," Joan Ryan exposed the culture of excessive, often abusive, training including the story of a 14-year-old gymnast who suffered a broken wrist in the gym. Rather than take a break, she dulled the pain each day with prescription drugs and a dozen Advil. Subtract the parallel bars and it sounds like child abuse.
All the more reason to celebrate parents who keep things in perspective -- even if they don’t always stay in their seats.
Nearly 50 million kids play organized sports each year, and each of them has a supportive family that digs deep into its pockets to pay for the essentials-uniforms, equipment, league fees, travel to away games. But the buck doesn't stop there. With private lessons, elite sports camps, corporate-sponsored tournaments, and all the hotel expenses and tourist traps that come with them, youth sports is more than just a fun pastime. It's an incredibly profitable market, and it's become crowded with companies and individuals eager to reap the rewards.
Building on his eye-opening investigation into the damaging effects of the ultra-competitive culture of youth sports in his first book, Until It Hurts, sports dad and journalist Mark Hyman takes us behind the scenes for a startling look at the business of youth sports, how it has changed, and how it is affecting young Americans. Examining the youth sports economy from many sides-the major corporations, small entrepreneurs, coaches, parents, and, of course, kids-Hyman probes the reasons for rapid changes in what gets bought and sold in this lucrative marketplace. He takes us to tournaments sponsored by Nike, Gatorade, and other big businesses. He talks to parents who sacrifice their vacations and savings to get their (sometimes reluctant) junior stars to these far-off, expensive venues for a chance to shine. And he introduces us to videos purporting to teach six-month-old babies to kick a ball, to professional athletes who will "coach" an eight-year-old for a hefty fee, to a town that has literally staked its future on preteen sports. However, the story isn't all big business and bad guys. Hyman also turns the spotlight on individuals cashing in on the youth sports market, but whose goods actually provide (at least) some benefits to kids.
Through extensive interviews and original reporting, The Most Expensive Game in Town looks beyond the high-energy ad campaigns, the supposedly performance-enhancing sneakers, and the cute baby-sized jerseys to explain the causes and effects of the commercialization of youth sports-and to reveal how these changes are distorting and diminishing family life. The proof is in the price tag. Happily, Hyman unearths promising examples of individuals and communities bucking this destructive trend and using youth sports to uplift and enrich kids' lives, rather than to fill their own pockets.