Cost of Sports vs Cost of Robotics

I pulled this article from “Numlock News”, a email news letter that I get that has lots of interesting stats.

According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, only 38 percent of kids aged 6 to 12 in 2018 played a team sport on a regular basis, down from 45 percent a decade earlier. One reason is the spiraling cost of youth sports. The Aspen Institute conducted a survey and found the average amount spent on a sport was $692 per child in a given year. Respondents were significantly above medial household income, leading researchers to suspect that the high price of playing official youth sports was driving away financially disadvantaged kids. The cheapest sport analyzed was track & field, at $191.34. Among the large sports with pro leagues, youth baseball cost $659.96 annually, basketball cost $429.78, tackle football cost $484.57, and ice hockey cost $2,582.74. Thanks to travel teams, youth sports has become a $17 billion industry.

Our cost per VEXIQ student is $121 based on a 4 person team and doing 3 events. A pretty decent bang for the money.


Well, (even though this is about iq) EDR is a completely different story. In order to be competitive, it’s about 3k per team (I bought my parts, which are bare minimum). With also about 4 students per team that’s 525 per student. But then again, that’s not per year so much as it is the price of starting your own team. As a result, total cost would be lower.
So yeah, actually not quite as different. Strange how more people dont do robotics or other STEM related things

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@Foster, are we looking at the direct cost to the student (i.e. what the parent pays out of pocket), or the cost per student for the entire program? The article about sports seems to imply what the parents have to pay.

The article is Parent Part of the cost. And Robotics is free in our district, but I do an annual analysis of the cost so the district knows how much this is really costing them. There have been discussions on if budget crunch came and we had to cut programs, how much would parents need to pay. They did analysis of the after-school programs (robotics, band, glee club, drama, all the sports, code club, etc.) Robotics was the lowest. So if disaster were to happen, the $121 would be allocated to the parents.

Since @Railgunawesome brought it up, the cost for our VEX VRC program is $350 per student. It’s also lower since we don’t charge internal teams to come to our events ( Outside pay $40) and the Regional Championship is $75.

In both cases, the current out of pocket for parents is transportation to events and food. Each team member gets a Tshirt.


Those numbers seem similar to ours. We don’t charge anything but a $15 t-shirt to the students and parents pay all their own travel expenses. Our roughly $30K annual budget across 80 students (from IQ to U) amounts to $375 per kid average. I’ve never looked at the specific number per program, but I know our U-team has cost us a whole lot more than average (with the new rules allowing VEX-Pro, they went shopping), and IQ costs us a whole lot less.


Man, I knew those sports figures were crazy. I remember how much my parents were willing to spend on me playing travel and competitive soccer before we moved, and then I found robotics.

I also remember I was in a store overhearing parents on what they spent for their child to just get a chance to tryout for the travel hockey league. Stupid expensive.

Where I live in VA, everything is more expensive. For my org, I charge new members $500, and returning members $375 (for VRC). IQ is $300.

This includes shirts, equipment, and event costs up to and including the State Championship. Parents cover travel and their own shirts and food.

Our States is $300 for VRC, $225 for IQ, but it’s the best state/regional around.


We’re in Virginia and charge a similar amount. I know for a fact that parents in our area spend LOTS more on sports and dance and gymnastics and band. Plus, as Oscar points out, there are lots of other expenses as well - private lessons, sports gear, instruments, costumes, etc that really add to the cost. Parents never blink an eye writing the check for our team - because they know how expensive other activities are! Robotics is actually a bargain. Especially if you have a person working in the field as an engineer or computer programmer or other business professional willing to donate their time. It’s the equivalent of getting free music lessons.


College will be cheaper than gymnastics.

I also was able to subsidize a lot because for the first 2 years I provided the bulk of parts for the team.

College will be cheaper than gymnastics.

Oh man, gymnastics costs are crazy when I talk to my mom and dad and see other people do it.

Another thing I learned is just with all the private coaching ,personal trainers, and practicing to get kids to be the absolute best and potentially get scholarship money is just how expensive these things get.


Honestly, these numbers seem low. Here’s a breakdown of the costs to play travel hockey in Toronto.

  • $3,500 season hockey fee
  • $220 game fee ($6 per game x 36 games)
  • $220 spectator fee ($6 per game x 36 games)
  • $1,000 approximate cost of hotels, gas, meals for away tournaments
  • $500 updating equipment every year
  • $50 skate sharpening

And this only includes one spectator per game and nothing for private training and coaching.

In general, most of the parents I talk to always gush about how cheap robotics is and they love that they’re saving money over what they typically play for sports. It goes to show that everything is relative.

That being said, I’m familiar with some private VRC/VIQC programs that charge close to $5000 a year, so robotics is quickly catching up.


Oh wow. That’s insane.

Wait you have to pay to spectate the games? As well as play?

I wasn’t aware of the playing fee, but the spectator fees have become standard for non-house league play (and maybe even house league as well). It goes towards offsetting the cost of renting the rink. There’s not enough supply of ice time up here to meet the demand, as such ice time has become crazy expensive ($200-300/hour). There’s even brokers who buy and sell ice time… seriously.


Thinking about this thread, I wondered briefly about “cost of music program vs. cost of robotics” but then, music and robotics aren’t really a “vs.” type of thing. Band/Choir/Orchestra go really well with robotics (as long as rehearsal times and concerts don’t conflict), while sports is often either/or robotics because of the time commitment. All four of my kids have done both music and robotics through high school, and all four received 2 years full-paid scholarships because of it (the music, that is). That has more than paid for the cost of instruments, lessons, etc.


The initial cost may be hefty as you need to buy electronics, hardware, computers for each team (assuming no one has their own), and competition fees. Also, traveling and food is another overlooked expense that quickly adds up.

The cost of robotics, however, is cheaper in the long run. If you preserve your parts and tools and CAD before hand, you will save a lot of metal and elongate the life of your supplies.

From personal experience, competitive sports are extremely expensive. I did basketball and track for nearly all my life and constantly paid for equipment, team fees, and training programs. Just to access a basketball court regularly (for practicing), I had to pay $30/month at my local YMCA.

The only thing I find that costs more for robotics is the time investment. No sport will ever amount to the amount of time I’ve spent on a robot. This is not to say that I didn’t invest time in sports, 3 hours a day during week days and games on weekends is the typical time commitment for a sport. But for a good robot, you need to spend even more time for an entire year (not just one season).


So is this something like $1-2 dollars and it say to " support team X and Y ", or is it like at $10 ticket to sit in the bleachers of a AAA baseball team?

$5-6 to support the local league is usually how it’s positioned.


!!! $121? our 4 person team took in about $200 PER PERSON, counting registration but not events. and this is after using leftover pieces from some overpriced vex kits! however, this is edr… i wish you luck in your team funding once you get to edr… : P

We dont charge anything to join our club…

You also have to pay your coaches, and buy other parts. As well as travel costs.

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tbh the cost of robotics is ridiculous. $600 for v5 parts. 10 bucks for a motor, 50 for batteries. it just adds up. 50 dollars per bot to get into competitions. sports is nothing. I mean the worst for sports is the lessons. and that is like 100 per month or so

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