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Ask Chuck: Our family is divided about kids’ baseball travel team

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

Our 11-year-old son was invited to try out for a competitive baseball travel team. We have three children, and I’m not convinced it’s the best use of our time and money. My husband and I are divided over the decision. Where do you fall on the issue?

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Divided About Kids’ Sports

Unsplash/Ben Hershey
Unsplash/Ben Hershey

Dear Divided About Kids’ Sports,

This one hits close to home as I once coached one of our son's competitive baseball travel teams. Before I share our experience, let’s look at the bigger picture of the growing trend of competitive sports programs for children as young as 8-years-old.

Get on the same team

I can offer some data and perspective to assist you in getting united. Foremost is motive. Be sure your child (not the parent) is the one most interested in the sport. Too often, I have seen a parent wanting the child to excel far more than the child desires. Both parents should be on the same team — that is the team of what is truly best for your child and family.

Financial and emotional pressure

I don’t know your financial situation, but a 2022 survey by Lending Tree revealed that 60% of families say youth sports are a financial drain. Parents can easily spend $10,000 a year for a child to play on a travel team. For those who don’t know what a travel team is, it is typically a group of select players with advanced ability who play in local, regional, state, or national tournaments against other select teams.

Some families feel the pressure to hire a private coach, which can be very expensive. Travis Dorsch, who played briefly in the NFL, found that kids in youth sports perceive more pressure when parents spend a greater percentage of the family income. The focus often shifts from fun, skill, and competency to winning. 

Besides the cost, competitive youth sports are time-consuming. Children may suffer burnout and risk injury. Parents can be influenced by the delusion of college scholarships and the dream that their child may one day become a professional athlete. Unrealistic expectations to perform and continually improve can add to already prevalent stress and anxiety in youth today.

I suggest you read and use these helpful guidelines set by NATA (National Athletic Trainers’ Association). When children focus on one sport too early, they miss the experience of trying others that they actually may prefer. “Inside the High-Stakes, Zero-Sum Game of Youth Club Sports” is a revealing look into the life that some experience in club sports.

Pros of select sports teams:

  • Fun.
  • Travel.
  • Skill and confidence-building.
  • New friends and expanded social network.
  • Potentially a time of family bonding.
  • Learn how to manage time and emotions.
  • Learn to work in a team setting with various personalities.


  • Time lost on other good opportunities.
  • The financial cost.
  • Pressure to perform.
  • Inflated self-image.
  • Meeting the needs of children in the family who do not play.
  • Negative exposure to things from teammates or coaches.
  • Balancing sports, school, church, and religious activities.
  • Early specialization increases the chance of burnout and injury.

Too much too soon?

Costs often exceed the expected, once uniforms, gear, private coaches, food, travel expenses, gifts, trophies, etc., are totaled. It is easy to get out of hand and lose all perspective.

Some people postpone saving for retirement and investing to afford a club sport. Others forego family vacations and cut back on entertainment. Some parents admit to spending more on team sports than they did for a college education. Elite team sports can rob children from exploring music, ballet, theater, art, agriculture, robotics, debate, speech, etc. It is important to keep a healthy perspective on raising children. The major consideration for people of faith should be how it conflicts with regular worship and church activities. See “Why We Pulled Our Kids From Club Sports” at the

Our experience

One of our sons played select baseball from ages 9–12. His team only lost five games over those four seasons. He had some championship trophies that were tall and impressive. Four of the players in the league (one teammate) went on to be drafted by professional baseball teams, although none of them were able to make a lasting career out of it. One pitched in the College World Series finals. Our son has fond memories of it; however, he was burned out by age 13. He dropped out of baseball and took up tennis and other outdoor activities that he enjoyed. Some of the boys on our team said it was their greatest memory of their formative years. None of our other three sons wanted to be on a select sports team. Those big trophies were later discarded, and only memories remained.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7b–8 ESV).

Only you can decide what sacrifices you are willing to make for club sports. Take time to pray, study, and discuss the topic thoroughly. The invitation to try out is exciting, but do not compromise your family’s needs and beliefs. Prioritizing a relationship with Christ with regular corporate worship sets the course for life. It has eternal value. Be sure it is not lost in the midst of pursuing a sports dream.

Do you want more tools and tips on financial stewardship? Are you interested in receiving ministry updates from around the world? Sign up to receive the Crown Newsletter emails by using the form on the homepage at

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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