Money’s Worth, Part Two

In part one, we talked about how the expense of fastpitch softball and travel ball in particular has changed the way people evaluate their roles within their team. The analogy of return on investment created a great deal of discussion and some outrage on social media.

Well, since so many people had something to say about the first installment I thought I would share another.

You’ve all heard this one. Or thought this one. Or said this one out loud. Or said this to your daughter’s coach. Or…

“We’ve earned a scholarship with all the time and money we’ve spent on softball!”

Here we go! If you have invested your time and money in softball with the idea that you would get your money back in a scholarship you might want to start spending your retirement money on lottery tickets because both have about the same likelihood of paying off. Now, before you get mad at me, let me explain a couple things.

A very small number of softball players get scholarships to begin with. Many softball scholarships are fairly small amounts of money. There are way more softball players who want a scholarship than there will ever be scholarships for them. The competition for a spot on a college roster is so fierce that many great softball players accept walk-on opportunities where they get no scholarship money at all, just so they can keep playing the game. Many more schools are Division III, where no scholarships are offered, than there are in the other divisions.

So now that we know how hard it is to get a scholarship, let’s talk about how much money people are investing. Out-of-pocket costs include but are certainly not limited to team fees, motels, meals on the road, gas, airfare, lessons, camps, clinics and equipment to name a few. Other real costs like missed work time, gate fees, and parking can also factor in. When you add in the siblings and other family members who follow the team around the costs can be astronomical.

So it would be great to earn a scholarship but, even if your daughter does, most of the scholarships you earn will never be equal to the amount of money you invested. The hard truth is putting all that softball money in a college fund would be a much safer investment. For some families, it almost seems like they could not only pay for school but maybe, even start a college of their own, for as much as they have spent on softball.

Having said all that though, I can’t help but be reminded of the slogan about the memories being priceless. So will you get your money’s worth in a softball scholarship, probably not. But you will get your money’s worth in memories if you let them have the value they deserve.