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How to Save Money on Team Sports

Most American families (63%) spend anywhere from $100 to $499 per child each month on youth sports, TD Ameritrade[i] found.

When it comes to youth sports, then, every bit helps. The following are tips that may help you minimize part of the costs of your child’s participation in sports.

  • Look for sibling discounts: Many sports leagues and programs offer sibling discounts. Consider signing more than one child and not only will you save money but it will minimize travel and time spent shuffling each kid around to its own sport. National Flag Football offers sibling discounts as well as military discounts!
  • Take advantage of early registration: many sports organizations offer early bird registration that is less expensive. If you commit earlier in the season you will save on late fees down the road.
  • Do some legwork: Scour the Internet for Groupon deals or visit the program’s website or social media pages to see if they are offering any discounts or coupons.
  • Buy gender-neutral merchandise and gear: This not only would increase re-sell value but  you can more easily re-use it on a sibling of a different gender.
  • If appropriate, buy used sport accessories, equipment, or clothes: Sometimes children use sports apparel or gear for a season or less. Buying brand new everything for a sport your child is just trying out may not be worth it. Save the money for once she/he commits!
  • Ask for experiences instead of material gifts: Grandparents, relatives, and friends are always asking parents for suggestions on what to buy the kids for Christmas, birthdays, and other occasions. Rather than recommending one more toy or electronic, ask them to give you a registration for a league or program your child may be interested in.

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Productive Ways to Occupy Your Time During Practice

A new study published in Taylor & Francis journal Sport, Education and Society reveals that 88% of children took part in organized activities on four to five days per week, with 58% doing more than one in an evening. It is no wonder, then, that most parents are clocking a significant number of hours sitting by the sidelines of their kids’ extra curricular activities. Here are five ways to stay productive while practice is going on:

1.     Go for a walk or a run! Many parents sacrifice their own fitness activities in order to take their children to their games and practices. It doesn’t have to be “either/or”. Bring your sneakers and take advantage of the track, trail or field where your child has his/her practices (Just don’t get in the way of the players!).

2.     Many parents have to leave work earlier in order to make it on time to their children’s organized sports activities. You may find it useful to bring your laptop and catch up on work-related projects or email for part of the practice. If the field does not have wi-fi, you can use the hot spot of your phone and stay productive.

3.     Volunteer as an assistant coach, snack coordinator, or whatever else may be needed. As long as you don’t become “that parent” on the bleachers, staying involved during games and practices is another way of showing interest in your child’s pursuits. You may even pick up new skills or meet other parents!

4.      Practice times can be used to set up some special one-on-one with your other children. Depending on their ages you can bring small toys, games, drawing notepads, or anything else that can engage the sibling. If they are old enough, they could even join you on the above-mentioned walk or jog!

5.     If there’s a relaxing activity that you enjoy taking part in, like reading, knitting, or something else, game time could become a bit of “me time”. This is specially true if the other parent is able to stay home with your other children.

Source

 Taylor & Francis Group. "Are your children overdoing it? Too many extracurricular activities can do more harm than good." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2018. .

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Flag Football: All The Advantages, None of the Disadvantages
As tackle football deals with the concussion effect and grapples with how to make the sport safer, flag football has emerged as one of the fastest growing youth sports in the country.  Already nearly 100,000 more 6 -12 year olds play the sport compared to tackle football, according to a study by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, which has analyzed youth athletic trends for 40 years (2018).

Enrollment in flag football youth leagues has been driven by Millennials and Gen X parents. These two generations are considered one of the most competent parenting generations in terms of the importance they place on both the safety and enrichment of their children’s lives. It only follows that these parents would seek safer alternatives to traditional tackle football. Why risk it with tackle when flag football can nurture many of the same skills that are acquired by playing traditional football? The fact that star players like Tom Brady didn’t play organized tackle football until high school lends a lot of credibility to the argument that children are not missing out by playing flag football earlier in life.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Tom Brady Sr. describes his preference for flag football at younger ages:

“I think that flag football is terrific. Everything you need to know about the game and about playing with teammates you can learn there. You can be as well-prepared for high school as if you started playing [tackle football] at seven years of age.”

In addition to safety, flag football offers other advantages as well: co-ed and all-girls teams can be more easily assembled.  As of right now, only 10% of tackle football players are female. Flag football is a more conducive avenue to increasing female participation in the sport; especially given the psychological benefits that playing football has on girls. For instance, a study conducted by the University of Alabama found that teenage girls who play football have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem than those who play other sports that are more popular among females.

Flag football is also less expensive to play, which decreases cost barriers for schools and parents. This is specially truth in areas of low socio-economic development, where participation in organized sports can benefit low-income students the most.

A few organizations have capitalized on flag football’s rising popularity. National Flag Football, based of West Bloomfield, Michigan, is one of those specializing solely on flag football. NFF organizes leagues in 12 states and tournaments and championships across the country.

Although football has been and will always be a huge influence on American sports culture, flag football has emerged as a safer alternative for young players while still allowing them to cultivate a love for the game. 

Sources

The Aspen Institute – The Benefits of Switching from Tackle to Flag Football for Youth (2018)

The New York Times – The Future of Football Has Flags (2018)

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