Crowdfunding is radically reshaping the way Americans fund everything from clothing startups to their education. But one important sphere of American life is still in the process of building a sophisticated relationship with the crowd: sports, and more specifically, the cost of participating in them.
The cost of participating in athletics is constantly rising. Take hockey, for instance. A Columbus Dispatch article published in 2009 stated that, “hockey league fees, range from $1,400 to $2,000 per player…then there’s the equipment: skates, helmets, sticks, pants, gloves, pads, shin, mouth and neck guards, etc, can add up to an additional $1,000”. This was the case almost four years ago. Now for a hockey season, “parents can easily sink in between $10,000- $15,000 a year” according to a marketplace.org article.
The same is true for other sports. MSM Money reported on several extreme cases. Debbie Jones of Apple Valley, MN estimates that “$50,000 since her [16 year old] son Tyus was in the first grade for him to attend camps and clinics and play basketball with kids who are at least two years older.” Furthermore, Ms. Jones predicts that she will spend “an additional $10,000 in the next two years” for Tyus to play. For most, these costs are prohibitive.
Yet this problem presents an opportunity for innovative fundraising. Enter the crowd. Already a few examples exist of crowdfunding being used to help support young athletes. Recently, a pair of deaf volleyball players turned to the crowd with their intention of representing their country in the 2013 Deaf Olympics. Charity Sanders and Nancy Moore created crowdfunding campaigns to help cover the cost of their trip to Bulgaria to represent the United States.
There is still room for a much more innovative marriage between crowdfunding and sports. Athletics are an important component of healthy lifestyles, and crowdfunding has attempted to promote this through the likes of SportFunder, and iSupportSports. As their campaigns continue, more athletes across the United States should look to crowdfunding as a viable solution to the growing cost of sports. Money should not be a hindrance to athletic activity. Crowdfunding has the ability to overcome this gap, allowing people of all ages to participate in athletics freely.
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