The unexpected costs of school soccer

Sadhana Sarma, Design Editor

It’s a dark and stormy night under the non-existent lighting on Stober Field. Another school soccer practice has come to an end and the team is gathered in a circle to stretch and listen to announcements. The melancholy voice of our team captain sounds, as she pleads the team to be sure to bring “this check” and “that check” soon.  

One would think that quitting competitive soccer and only playing school soccer would reduce the amount of hefty payments to play the sport. But with new uniforms, apparel, donations and bus fees, school soccer has continued to rack up expenses for its players. While the cost of playing school soccer cannot be compared to that of competitive soccer, it is still not cheap. Because soccer is underfunded, the team relies on the players to cover any costs that fall short. I often find myself bombarded with writing checks and making pleas to my parents for more money.     

I recently quit competitive soccer due to time limitations and a desire to focus on other activities. For years, my parents told me that if I truly desired to play, they’d pay for an activity that would bring me genuine joy. Anytime I complained about going to practice, they seemed relieved because my comments insinuated the end of soccer fees. They supported my soccer endeavors, but if I didn’t fully love the sport, they were more than happy to take their money elsewhere.     

I finally decided to quit out of a culmination of many different emotions. I knew it was time to move on, but it felt weird not playing the sport that I had grown up with. My parents were quick to console me, reasoning that if I did not want to give my all to this sport, there was no point in forcing myself to give up other parts of my life that I enjoyed. Once I calmed down, my parents took their cue to say what was really on their mind: “Thank god we don’t have to waste our money on those crazy fees anymore.” At that moment, the image of my parents huddled next to each other at each of my games flashed into my head, as they whispered their predictions for when my competitive soccer career would end.

Well, it turns out my drama ended up being for nothing. I quickly got over the initial shock of quitting something I had been a part of since I was 5, and realized how much time it had eaten away. I also remembered that I still had school soccer to play, so it was not the end of my relationship with soccer.     

I had been playing school soccer since freshman year. However, this year has proven itself to be especially fee-heavy compared to past ones. No, there are not $3000 checks to write, but I often find myself still having to ask my parents to give me money for soccer-related fees. Some of these fees are choice-based, such as the sweatshirts and warm-up jerseys that we decide to buy. We also decided to get new uniforms this year, but we were forced to do so because our past uniforms were so worn. Players who don’t even take the bus have also found themselves having to pay bus fees. Consistently relying on players to pay out of pocket becomes troublesome. The players are generally happy to do so, but one would hope that the school would make more efforts to lend us a helping hand.  

I’m not asking to be exempt from fees and donations altogether. I’m simply asking that some often overlooked sports, like soccer, get a little TLC — Tons Less Cost — or even some LLC — a Little Less Cost.