What are some of the pros and cons of travel sports?

Corbin Hubert, Trojan Matters Editor

The Amateur Athletic Association (AAU) was formed 132 years ago by James E. Sullivan. The AAU’s goal was to create standards for amateur sports. The AAU featured numerous sports and training programs in its early years.

132 years later, the AAU is still going strong.

There are over 700,000 members and over 100,000 volunteers for the organization. With AAU not being affiliated with any schools, many student athletes participate in both AAU and sports offered by their schools.

Some parents sign their kids up for AAU, or other travel sports to help off the field. Arlington Magazine theorizes that many kids see boosts in confidence from playing travel sports and the kids have a better idea of how to overcome challenges when they are not playing any sports. 

Arlington Magazine believes that kids can learn more lessons through travel sports, rather than winning and losing. By showing the true importance of winning and losing, kids will be less likely to feel defeated later in life when faced with challenges. Conflicts appear in teams when the coach tries to drill winning as the top priority for the players.

Senior soccer player David Harless enjoys travel sports for the social aspect. “It gets me more social with kids from other schools and it was a good way for me to make friends outside of school,” said Harless.

A huge plus for travel sports is children being more active. If someone is active in many different ways, there is a better chance they will continue to be active later in their lives. Many popular athletes have benefited from playing two sports at a young age. NFL quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray have amassed tremendous arm strength from their years of playing baseball. Arm strength is a necessity for a professional quarterback.

While there are positives to participating in travel sports there are certainly negatives.

Compared to recreational sports leagues, where playing time is equally distributed, travel teams have different rules and regulations, and playing time is not guaranteed. Arlington Magazine claims parents are worried to confront the coaches about any issues with their child and the team, with a fear that their child’s status may fall.

“A negative for me, is when I go up against a travel teammate, we both know how we are going to play,” said Harless.

A reason parents sign their kids up for travel sports is a fear of their child falling behind. According to Arlington Magazine, parents are worried that if their child does not get the highest level of experience and competition for their respective sports, then they will not develop the skills needed to make their school teams. Parents may believe their children will be overlooked in tryouts by those who do participate in travel sports.

Lastly, AAU and other travel sports can cost a lot of money. USAToday High School Sports suggests that parents take the thousands of dollars that would be for equipment, uniform, and travel fees into a fund of some sort. High-end teams prices can reach up anywhere between 8,000 and 10,000 dollars a year. Teams more regionally based with not much competition can average around 1500 a year.