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Travel Sports or School Sports? How Your Kid Can Play Both


$15.3 billion. That’s how much the kid’s sports industry is worth. TIME recently published an article that talked about how the industry has grown into what it is today up 55% from 2010. The booming travel sports market shows that participation has gone up significantly, which is great, but the cost to participate has also increased.

Some of the growth in this market can be attributed to the fact that travel sports are known for athlete development. The individualized coaching and the recruiting prospects can definitely be benefits of travel sports, but that said, they can also create some stress.

More and more parents are feeling pressured to have their kids play travel sports so they could potentially play at a higher level someday. Some parents might even nudge their kids to only choose one sport, or to either play travel sports or school sports, but not both. Often, these parents worry that their kids have too much on their plate being in school, playing travel sports, and trying to maintain a normal sleep schedule, and school sports don’t fit into the picture.  

But don’t overlook the importance of school sports for your athlete.

Encouraging Your Kids to Play School Sports

It’s no secret that involvement in school sports has an awesome and positive influence on a student’s life. They get to play the sports they enjoy, and they are bonding with their teammates whom they might not see at school otherwise. Plus, they get to represent their school, which helps them learn how to take pride in being a part of their community.

Athletes Perform Better in School than Non-Athletes

A study from 2014 found that high school students who participate in sports perform better than non-athletes when it comes to grade point averages. Participation in school sports hinges on attendance in class, so naturally, athletes have a higher percentage of days of school attended per year and lower dropout rates.

School athletes might also face playing restrictions if their grades aren’t up to par. This motivates student athletes to work hard in the classroom and spend time with their homework, which the authors of the study summarized by saying, “…lessons learned in athletics, combined with the knowledge that they must do well in school to participate, improves student’s persistence and chances for success.”

Playing Multiple Sports Can Help Students Avoid and Prevent Burnout

The culture around youth sports is pushing kids to specialize in one sport, so they have a better chance of continuing at the next level. But contrary to popular belief, 88% of NCAA Division I male and female athletes played an average of two to three sports as kids.


Specializing in one sport too early could lead kids to stop playing sports altogether. In fact, 70% of kids leave organized sports by the age of 13! It could prove to be beneficial to encourage your kids to play a variety of sports at different levels. Of course, it’s fine for your kid to have a favorite, but maintaining a balance will help them avoid burnout. It might not be physically or financially possible to have your kid play on multiple travel sports teams; instead, pitch school sports as an option.

While school sports tend to have pay-to-play fees, this is a smaller barrier to entry for students than travel sports expenses, and there are simple fundraising ideas to reduce these costs.

Helping Your Student Athlete Succeed

If you encourage your student athlete to partake in school sports, your family schedules might get even crazier, but there are ways to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Help Them Master Time Management

Getting kids on a school schedule can be hard enough as it is, so how do they handle adding in school sports practices and games without neglecting their homework? Focus on helping your student athlete learn time management skills.


The older your child is, the easier it is for them to prioritize tasks, but they still might need help figuring out how to maximize their time to be more productive. Luckily, there are tons of tips out there to help students stay on top of their tasks, one of the simplest being eliminating distractions, like phones, during study time.

If you have young kids, follow this guide to teach them how to make their own schedule. Then they will start forming habits and learning how to manage their time.  

Keeping Them Healthy and Safe from Injury

Keeping your athlete safe and injury-free when they’re always playing sports can be a tall order. Having active kids can make parents worry about the risk of injury, but there are a few ways to mitigate that risk. First, understand the potential for overuse injuries, which account for nearly half of all sports injuries in middle and high school students.

The article from TIME mentioned a study from the May issue of American Journal of Sports Medicine in which University of Wisconsin researchers found that young athletes who participated in their primary sport for more than eight months in a year were more likely to report overuse injuries.

While making sure your kids maintain a healthy balance of sports to keep them safe, you can also do some research on preventing injuries. These injury specific prevention tip sheets are a good place to start!

Making Ends Meet: Fundraising for sports teams

There’s no hiding it: travel sports are expensive. Families can end up spending more than 10% of their income per year on travel sports when it’s all said and done. And like I mentioned before, even school sports have pay-to-play fees. Luckily, you can take away some of the brunt of these costs with gift card fundraising.

Not only can you raise money on your everyday purchases with gift card fundraising, but you can also raise money on your sports-related purchases. See how much you could use scrip during a weekend tournament:


From unifying students and creating a sense of pride for their school to minimizing injury and burnout, there are tons of perks for having your kids play school sports in addition to travel. But when it comes to these decisions, you and your kids are on the same team. As long as you keep that in mind, you’ll be the Most Valuable Parent!  

Next Steps:

  • Want to learn more about using scrip for your sports team? Download our starter kit.
  • What are your thoughts on travel sports? Leave us a comment below!

Download the Sports Team Scrip Fundraising Starter Kit