Sunday, March 22, 2009

Figure Skating Money: Trust Fund or Lessons?

A 26-year-old single friend of mine from work said something that’s been nagging me for weeks. Here’s what she said:

Why don’t you take all that money you’re spending on skating, put it in an account, and give it to Ice Girl on her 18th birthday?

She went on to say that Ice Girl could make do with school-sponsored sports. Her glum expression would clear up, Single Friend promised, when I presented her with this nest egg at graduation.

It’s not like she’s going to the Olympics, so why spend all the money?

I imagine you’ve heard similar comments from friends and that you’ve lain awake at night wondering if figure skating is the right place to spend thousands of dollars in this uncertain economy. I’ve talked with Ice Dad, Ice Grandma, and Ice Girl about Single Friend’s comments. Here are our responses:

  1. From Ice Grandma: It’s clear Single Friend doesn’t have children. What parent could refuse a child an opportunity to enjoy a sport she so clearly loves?
  2. From Ice Dad: We’re paying for self-esteem and drive. Ice Girl is a different kid than she was just a year ago. She has goals and she is determined. And she’ll always have a life-long love of fitness and the sport.
  3. From me, Ice Mom: The Olympics is not the goal of every kid who has ever played high school basketball or swam in a pool. Yet, as communities, we support these programs with our tax dollars. Why? Because kids benefit. They learn to strive for something and they are active. Studies show that athletes do better in academics and later life.
  4. From Ice Girl: I wouldn’t want that pile of money. I want to skate. Now. Is there any walk-on freestyle ice tonight? Can you call my coach for an extra lesson? Watch me try out my axel. No, no. Watch me again. Hey, Mom, check this out…

That, in my opinion, is worth its weight in diamonds.


Angie said...

Yup... I have heard people make comments too. I have a hockey player(early stages) and a figure skater. I've heard comments like:

"Your kids are involved in expensive sports."

"Wow, how can you afford figure skating lessons? Aren't they expensive?"

"You paid HOW much for her skates?"

"I wouldn't pay that much for my child to be involvedin a sport."

Keep in mind, I don't go around telling people how much I've paid for this and that. In fact, I keep it quiet to avoid such comments.

I know figure skating and ice hockey are expensive and I don't need need to be reminded of the cost. I get enough reminders when paying the bills and buying equiptment. *grin* To be honest, I think my money is well spent. My daughter LOVES to skate. She LOVES competing and I like watching her thrive! No, she will not be an olympic skater but that is not what we were after when she started skating. We've achieved what we were after... an activity she enjoys! Sure, I could take the skating money and stick in in a savings account. I could put dd in soccer or some other community sponsered sport but to be honest, I'd be wasting my money! She would not enjoy those sports like she enjoys skating. Not to mention, she would be heart broken!

So, for now, I will remain a hockey/figure skating mom and I will ENJOY watching my children grow in a sport they both enjoy. Soon enough, my children will be grown and off on their own. I want to enjoy this time and do all I can to help them enjoy being a kid. For 2 of my kids, that involves skating. For the other, it involves acting lessons. That too is an activity that can get expensive! I can't help that my children think outside the box! :)

Anna Page said...

I absolutely agree with Ice grandma, ice dad, ice mom and ice girl on this one. Sticking money in trust for some future event is all very well, but life is for living now, and as such a lovely sport has such a great impact on self asteem and goals (as well as fitness) then of course it is worth the doing it now rather than later investment. Coming first in competitions is not the reason for taking up and participating in a sport, that privilege is available to a tiny minority of us.

Angela said...

I'm a newbie ice skating mom, and we're not in quite that deep yet, but I want to be! I'm always torn about whether this is the right thing to do in the long run. And I was just thinking about this issue of saving for college as opposed to buying skating garb the other day. You can say that about ANYTHING you spend money on. We could all send money to save a starving child instead of eating out at a restaurant too! I'm sure the key is balance. A little skating, a little saving, a little giving a little taking. My little girl LOVES to be on the ice, and when I see her in the middle of the ice all alone performing for that one minute, I'm AMAZED at how posed and calm and self-assured she is. There's an intagible value to that! I'm really enjoying your blog. Thanks for all the tips you share.

Anonymous said...

I just recently graduated college, and my parents hadn't set up any kind of trust fund for me. Instead, they paid for all of my expensive sports (including skating). It would have destroyed my sense of self-worth if my parents stopped paying for my skating because I wasn't good enough to go to the Olympics. If your daughter isn't happy playing the kinds of sports that are offered through school or local programs, then there is no point to try and make her participate. If you can afford for her to skate, do it - even if it's at the expense of the college fund. It might not be a direct investment in where she will end up in 15 or so years after she graduates college, but it has a significant indirect impact. You said yourself that her self-esteem has improved. This has probably translated to more confidence, which is an important life skill. Kids whose parents encourage them in whatever activities they're involved in also have a higher chance of success later on down the road. Just reinforce that you want her to go to college throughout her time in high school, and you'll figure out how to pay for it when the time comes.

TnT said...

My parents paid for skating until I was old enough to get a part-time job. At 15 I got a job where I could get free ice time and also pay for lessons. I did it because I still wanted to skate.

At 18 I no longer wanted to skate because I discovered boys and parties and other things. I went to college, married, had a family, etc.

In my 30s I dug my skates out of the closet and decided skating would be more fun than water aerobics. My kids weren't interested in skating and that was OK. I started ice dancing and passed my gold dances. I am now 46 and working on international dances. I pay for my own skating of course -- but I have thanked my parents many times for giving me the gift of skating, which has provided me with wonderful friends, a healthy activity that keeps me in shape and sane, and a lifetime of happy memories.

I hope some day your daughter will say that to you.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is also involved in ice skating. I started taking lessons when I was 21 (I'm now 42) I always loved watching skating and my mom was the one who told me to take lessons. I didn't realize that they offered adult lessons. Anyway, I got my three nieces involved in it and now my daughter. It's been so rewarding. All four of them have been on synchro teams which taught them team work and they competed individually. I'm so proud of all them. My nieces are a lot older, but still remember how much fun skating was. Money is nice, but so is involvement and the friendships you make.

just pat said...

First of all, what is it about figure skating that makes people immediately think Olympics? If your kid plays soccer, people don't ask, "When will we see you in the Olympics?" but that's usually the first response my daughter received whenever she told people she skated.

Many people have told me that they don't see the point in spending all that money on a sport if your child is not going to the olympics or even earn a college scholarship.
My child has skated for more than 10 years now. We told her years ago that her college money was being spent on her skating and that when the time came, we would still contribute to her education, but we would not take out any loans. She would have to be responsible for finding to money fill the gap.

There were times when the money was tight and we would ask her to reconsider her commitment to an expensive sport when she was struggling and not progressing. Then there would be tears and always,always, "But I LOVE it! I don't want to quit!"

Ultimately we felt that the lessons she was learning from skating were worth the price. She learned to set goals and achieve them. She learned that hard work pays off. And most importantly, she became a good person.

She earned academic scholarshp offers from every college she applied to and I can say that the life skills she learned while skating DID pay for her college.
I have no regrets.

Anonymous said...

I have had many people question if I was spending my money and time wisely by investing in my daughters skating. There have also been times when my daughter and I have contemplated quiting skating due to the expense. I'm so glad that we decided to continue skating. The hardest time we struggled with continuing to skate was after my daughter had 2 hernia surgeries last year which she developed from skating. My daughter was feeling like she was not going to be able to get back to the same level she was before her surgery and she was seeing other girls that she was a higher level then before surgery catching up with her level. I told her that I wanted her to go back to skating and see what she could do. If she felt after she went back to skating that she could not be successful we would stop skating. She has come so far in such a short period of time. She just passed her Junior Moves in the Field and on her 14th birthday she won three medals (gold, silver and bronze)in her first individual events since her surgery. I'm so glad we are still skating.
I'm a single mother and finding the money to continue with figure skating has been very difficult but skating has been an invaluable education for me and my daughter. I realize college is expensive because I have been going to college while my daughter has been skating. I know however that her skating will eventually help my daughter get into college. Skating is a sport that takes lots of discipline and commitment and colleges are looking for students who have the skills that skating teaches them. I know there are lots of other sports that can teach similar skills needed to help my daughter get into a good college that are a lot less expensive but my daughter does not want to do those sports. She wants to be a skater and I want to encourage her skating goals as long as I can.

I have also been very disturbed by people asking me since my daughter was 4-5 years old if she was going to the Olympic someday. I've always responded to these people by saying that if that is what my daughter wants to do then I will support her. I've never told people that we were in skating to become the next Olympic champion. People only see skating when they watch it on TV so they do not know that there is more to skating then what they see on TV. I've always told my daughter whatever she wants to do with her skating I will be proud of her accomplishments. Her choice is not to live every hour of her life at an ice rink training to be an Olympic champion. Her choice is to do the best she can at the sport that she loves, make great life long friends and get a solo in the annual ice show. She also plans to compete on her High School and maybe her college figure skating team.
I'm not sure many people know there are scholarships for figure skaters if you take the time to look for them. USFSA offers scholarship money to high school students. There are no full tuition atheletic scholarships for skating but there are organizations that offer some scholarship money for figure skaters. You have to look for them and they do help with some of your college tuition. I'm hoping with college skating becoming more popular and colleges offering synchronized skating there will be more scholarship money available for my daughter when she graduates from high school.

Don't let money be the deciding factor to continue to figure skate. If you child wants to skate than do whatever you can to support there goals and asspirations in figure skating. If you can't afford for them to go to the Olympics be honest with your child and show them that going to the Olympics is not the only way to be successful in figure skating. Your child could be the next Disney Star on Ice or maybe he/she could be a coach, your child may like to become the next synchronized skating champion or collegiate national champion. Your child could also become a choreographer or a skating program director. Your child could also become the next Adult national champion. There are lost of things to do in the sport of skating to be able to enjoy skating your entire life. Don't allow money to limit your childs hopes and dreams. God will make a way for your child to skate if God knows that this is the desire of your childs heart. God bless all the skaters and have a great day on the ice!

Lake Placid Skater said...

I agree with you Ice Mom--the love of a sport and being active is more important than cash. As one of the comments said, life should be lived now--money is not the most important thing.

I have been skating for 12 years, and can honestly say that it is a great experience. Olympics is not the end all be all-- the lessons Ice Girl is learning from skating and sports in general will greatly aid her in life.

Anonymous said...

Is skating the ONE that my daughter should be focused on?

I think we all agree that being active in sports can help build a foundation for self-esteem, teamwork, and good sportsmanship
while helping to refine gross motor skills in children's rapidly developing bodies.
However, we have to realized that skating is just one of the many sports that we can offer to our children that can provide the above benefits.
But only a handful of them are as expensive as skating.

Since skating is SO expensive it becomes critical to ask ourselves the following questions before we committed to it.
1. Have we given her enough exposure to other less-expensive sports so she can compare and choose wisely?
2. Is skating her #1 sports and she is FAR more interested than her #2 sports?
3. And does she demonstrate FAR more talent and skills in skating than in other sports?

Galatea said...

Weel, for me the anwser is easy,
Darling, is my money and my daughter.
Anyway that lady is too much material.
Kids dont need a lot of money in one account.
They need something that make them fell happy.

Jillybean said...

I have so much to say on this subject, but I'll keep it short.
I'm a former skater and coach, and now have a daughter who skates.
When she was little, people would always ask me if I wanted her to go to the Olympics. I always enjoyed the looks on their faces when I said "HECK NO! I wouldn't want that for her." Most people are stunned at my comment. Why do most people think that skating not valuable unless the Olympics is involved?
When I was skating, our extended family would make comments about the money we were spending. I remember one time when I got new blades, and they were astounded at the cost. I pointed out to them that they spent at least twice the amount on their last pair of skis and they only used them two or three times a year, where I used my skates more than that in one week.
There are so many valuable things that can be learned from skating. Discipline, goal setting and sportsmanship, to name a few.
Of all the skaters I know, most of them excel in school. The discipline they learn on the ice transfers to school and other things.
Could they learn these things from another less expensive sport? Probably.
Would they learn these things from another sport if they don't love it as much as skating. Probably not.

If she loves it, and works hard and you're willing to make the sacrifices to keep her on the ice, I say why not.
I also agree with Galatea.
Your money.
Your daughter.
Your business.
It shouldn't be any concern of your co worker how you spend your money.

katiedear said...

close your eyes and write the check

Ice Dad said...

I would tell Single Friend to mind her own business.

Ice Mom said...

Yes, dear. Thank you for for your comment, Ice Dad. :)