The Rising Cost of High School, Club, and College Sports

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Expert Author

Dave Knoepfle – Team Fundraising Expert, eTeamSponsor

Author Bio: Dave is Chief Marketing Officer at eTeamSponsor the leading fundraising partner for teams. He has been helping high schools raise money for their football and other teams since 2022.



Read Time: 4 min

Updated: 4/6/2023

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High school, club, and college sports have always been an important part of helping young people develop important leadership, teamwork, and social skills. However, over the years, the cost of participating in these sports has risen significantly, making it increasingly difficult for students to afford to play. In fact, in a 2022 report from the Aspen Institute Project Play, parents reported paying an average of $883 for their child’s primary sport and an average of $2,068 per sport for families with annual incomes of $150K or more. So, it is not surprising to find that 12% of high school student-athletes report cost being a barrier to playing their sport of choice. In this blog post, we’ll explore the rising cost of participating in high school and college sports and provide some tips on how to reduce the cost to play.

High School football players in red walking off the football field

The Cost of High School and Club Sports 

In recent years, the cost of playing high school or club sports has risen dramatically. According to a recent survey by the Aspen Institute Project Play, parents report that this is due to several factors including inflation (33%), the need for more or better equipment (22%), the need for more or better coaching (16%), the need for more frequent training (15%), and more frequent travel (14%).

Drivers of the Rising Cost of Sports

Horizontal Bar graph with black bars and green background

To offset these rising costs, many schools now require students to pay fees for things like uniforms, equipment, and transportation. According to the 2021-22 Coach & AD Magazine Athletic Directors Survey, 43% of high schools now charge a sports participation fee, up from 39% 2017-18. In addition, parents may need to pay for private coaching or specialized training if their child wants to take their sport to the next level.

Schools Charging a Participation Fee

Green and black pie chart with the green section being DO charge at 43% and Don't Charge 57%.

The Cost of College Sports 

College sports are even more expensive than high school sports, with the average cost of attendance for an NCAA Division I school topping $30,000 per year. While some students are able to secure athletic scholarships to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board, these scholarships are highly competitive and often only cover a portion of the total cost of attendance. According to Kiplinger, in 2021 only 6 D1 sports cover 100% of the cost of attendance, and the average value of a D1 athletic scholarship was only about $16,000 a year. In addition, students who do not receive scholarships may still be required to pay for things like equipment, uniforms, and travel expenses. 

Tips for Reducing Costs

While the rising cost of participating in high school and college sports can be a barrier to participating in sports, there are some steps that students and their families can take to reduce expenses. These include: 

    • Switching from personal training to group training sessions can help defray the cost across multiple families. 
    • Purchasing used equipment in good condition. continues to be our go-to for a great selection of both used and new sporting equipment. 
    • Consider using digital fundraising. Over the past two years alone, eTeamSponsor has helped reduce the financial burden for over 10,000 teams, clubs, and activities by helping them raise funds to cover their costs. Digital fundraising is easy and effective and typically raises 2-4X more than other fundraising activities. 
    • Applying for scholarships or financial aid to cover sports-related expenses. 
    • Participating in community-based programs or leagues that have lower fees. 


The rising cost of participating in high school and college sports is a significant issue that has a wide-ranging impact on students and their families. While there are some steps that can be taken to reduce costs, it is important for schools and organizations to recognize the financial burden that these activities can place on students and to work towards creating more affordable opportunities for athletic competition. By doing so, we can ensure that all students have the opportunity to benefit from the many positive aspects of sports participation. 

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