Canadian Champions in Training: Having Kids in Sports Demands Time, Money and a Plan

Jul 23, 2012, 06:45 ET from Investors Group Inc.

WINNIPEG, July 23, 2012 /CNW/ - It's not just about going for the gold. Rather than focusing on creating the next bumper crop of Canada's elite athletes, a majority (75 per cent) of parents with children in sports are investing their time and hard-earned money to foster leadership qualities, discipline and team building skills, according to the latest research by Investors Group.

One third of parents (31 per cent) with children involved in athletic activities feel their kids have a recognized talent or skill that should be developed or have potential for more. Twenty-one per cent have their offspring enrolled in sports because all of their children's friends are actively involved.

"Whether you are raising an elite athlete, or view athletic activity as an important building block in character development, the end goal is the same," says sports parent and Investors Group Regional Director Daniel Collison. "Canadian parents are investing in the future success of their children. Along the way, both parents and children will need advice, support and a game plan to manage the effort involved."

Time and money

Twenty-eight per cent of parents say the time required to support their kids' athletic activities is the greatest contributor to stress while 26 per cent cite the burden of financial demands. Emotional (11 per cent), physical (10 per cent) and relationship demands (7 per cent) were also cited as stress factors.

The survey reveals that Canadian parents invest an average of $1,658 per year on their children's athletic pursuits. Forty-seven per cent spend $1,000 or more on requisite lessons, equipment, camps, tournaments, babysitters and other expenses involved in supporting athletic extracurricular activities. While half of parents (51 per cent) say they have not made sacrifices as a result of these financial commitments, nearly four-in-ten (38 per cent) parents say they forgo personal expenditures on shopping and entertainment and 19 per cent have given up family vacations.

"Fifty-six per cent of parents with children involved in athletic activities have two or more children involved in recreation or competitive sports," notes Collison. "For many, monthly expenditures may be much higher than the average. It's important that parents optimize their budgets and take full advantage of all the resources and benefits available to them, including tax credits."

Investment of real dollars is only part of the price tag of having kids in sports. Attending games, practices, classes, chauffeuring, fundraising and other means of support involves an average parental commitment of 15 hours per month. Three-in-ten (31 per cent) spend even more time per month.

"In addition to hard dollar costs, there are a myriad of hidden costs that families need to consider," says Collison. "Combined, they can result in a bigger investment than expected with longer-term impact on family finances and overall quality of family life. Parents need to be cautious about losing sight of their overall financial well-being by planning ahead."

These activities also have an impact in the workplace. Eighty per cent of parents whose support resulted in losing time at work say they spend anywhere up to ten hours away from work per month to accommodate their children's athletic interests. For 20 per cent of parents who lost time, this translates into up to five per cent loss of income; for another seven per cent of parents, it is as much as 15 per cent loss of income.

Lessons from the pros

Many of the sentiments of parents echo those expressed by Canada's elite athletes. The results of a recently released Investors Group poll of 183 elite Canadian athletes reveals that demands on time (69 per cent) and money (77 per cent) were the most stressful aspects of training for their career.

According to the survey, Canada's athletic champions identified determination (99 per cent) and being disciplined in following a plan (95 per cent) as the most important factors that helped them achieve their goals.

"Developing talent and leadership involves a tangible financial investment, but also commitment, focus and planning," says Collison. "Aspiring Canadian athletes can take their cue from some of Canada's best to achieve their own athletic milestones."

More media information, including detailed regional highlights, infographics and survey highlights, is available on the Investors Group Media Room.

About the Survey Methodology

This poll was conducted by Harris/Decima, online, between June 25 and July 1 for a total of 1,003 completed surveys.  Data were weighted by age, region and gender to reflect census profile. 

About Investors Group

Investors Group, founded in 1926, is a national leader in delivering personalized financial solutions to Canadians through a network of more than 4,500 Consultants located throughout Canada. In addition to an exclusive family of mutual funds and other investment vehicles, Investors Group offers a wide range of insurance, securities, mortgage and other financial services. Investors Group is a member of the IGM Financial Inc. (TSX: IGM) group of companies. IGM Financial is one of Canada's premier financial services companies with over $118 billion as of June 30, 2012, in total assets under management.

SOURCE Investors Group Inc.