Eric M. Minnesota

Unfair YouthSports Fees

This letter is about how the current rising costs to play in primer youth sports leagues is unfair to lower income families.

Dear Future President,

The rising costs to play in premier youth sports leagues is outrageous and has to be more accessible to lower income families because the high cost shuts lower income kids out from playing, money doesn't determine skill of the player, and lower income kids don't get exposure to scouts to get drafted.

The high cost of premier leagues and clubs shuts lower income kids out from better competition. An article states, “In soccer and other sports, the rising popularity of expensive club and academy teams and the spread of costly tournaments all over the country are making it harder for low-income youth to participate.” According to Michael Sagas — chairman of the department of tourism, recreation and sport management at the University of Florida — the crowd at the US Soccer national championship was composed of the upper middle class to wealthy individuals. “But we're not reaching the entire population,” said Michael Sagas to According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, 25% of the population has an annual income under $25,000, and 15% of sports athletes are in that group. My family and I fall under that group of athletes. I play baseball, and I have always been good at it, but I find it hard to get the opportunity to play for a premier league. “We simply can't afford it,” my mom would say. I admit it's discouraging to know that even with my skill level, I can’t live up to my full potential because of my mother's income. For families with an income of over $60,000, 5% said their child's participation dropped because of the higher cost of school sports. But for families with and income under $60,000, 19% said their child's participation dropped because of the higher cost of school sports according to Though these numbers may seem low, these are still kids getting shut out of their sport because of the higher cost their families can't afford.

Andrew McCutchen, who was a first round draft pick in 2005 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, wrote an essay titled “Left Out.” In his essay, he describes how money was always an issue and how his family barely got by. wrote, “According to McCutchen, had it not been for the generosity of a coach who was willing to cover his travel expenses and tournament fees, he might have never been able to play with the best, flourish as a ballplayer, be noticed and, eventually, become a first-round draft pick.” McCutchen is arguably one of the best baseball players in the game, but he didn't come from a privileged family. It feels as if the premier leagues are deliberately making it so only wealthy individuals can get noticed by scouts, by charging an outrageous price to play. can McCutchen also wrote, “But the thing is, nobody outside of Fort Meade knew who I was, even when I was 12 years old, the same age as those kids playing in the Little League World Series. When you’re a kid from a low-income family who has talent, how do you get recognized? Now, you have to pay thousands of dollars for the chance to be noticed in showcase tournaments in big cities.” I'm like him because despite being a talented baseball player, a premier league just isn't feasible for my family. So I'm stuck playing recreational baseball where the kids who play are low skilled and it's not making me a better ball player at all. It's flat out boring, and the competition doesn’t push you to be your very best. Andrew McCutchen said, “When you talk to players around Major League Baseball, almost every single one of them has a story about a person who stepped in and took care of their expenses. You hear it all the time: “If it wasn’t for this guy, I wouldn’t be in the league.” This proves that lots of skilled players are being overlooked just because their family is too poor. So, money equals greater opportunity right? Well this shouldn't be. Money shouldn’t determine skill in a sport, money should only determine money.

Lower income kids can't make it big in the game they love, simply because of financial boundaries. A parent wrote to Fran Dicari — a Cincinnati blogger — “It’s sad to me that youth sports are really not all about true talent anymore. With the new technology and travel and showcase teams being where all the scouts go it’s turned into a rich person’s game. If you don’t have the money, you are a lot of steps behind”, according to If America truly cared about getting the best of the best to play, they would give everyone the same opportunities by offering aid and scholarships to families who can't afford the outrageous costs. “Wealthy families are spending thousands of dollars to put their kid on an elite team that travels across the country to compete in tournaments, and these tournaments are becoming the places that college coaches and scouts look. So poorer families who can't afford to send their child to these tournaments don't get evaluated or drafted”, Darryl Hill said to “When you’re a kid from a low-income family who has talent, how do you get recognized? Now, you have to pay thousands of dollars for the chance to be noticed in showcase tournaments in big cities”, Andrew McCutchen wrote. Those are luxuries many talented players can't afford.

Future president, the cost of premier youth sports leagues is unfair to the lower income families, because it limits them from progressing in their sport, money doesn’t always determine skill, and the financial burden makes it hard for young talent of low income families to get noticed by scouts or college coaches. Some ideas to fix this problem are to lower the cost to play in these leagues, or to make youth sports more accessible by having scholarships to play in the league or more financial aid to players — like American baseball teams do for the kids in the Dominican Republic. Think about it, can this really be the land of opportunity when we shut out our youth that are passionate and talented in their sport just because their family is poor?


Eric Winter


Saint Paul, MN

St. Paul Central High School

Approaching Analysis - Hours 2 and 3

This is a sophomore honors class at St. Paul Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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