May 4, 2021 - News
The average Colorado youth sports team travels 2,551 miles a year
A baseball game at Northwest Open Space in Northglenn.
A baseball game at Northwest Open Space in Northglenn. Photo: Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado youth sports teams travel more miles to get to games than those in any other state, a new study shows.

Why it matters: The extensive travel is part of what makes youth sports — particularly those in elite leagues — so costly and inaccessible for many children.

  • 27% of parents spent at least $6,000 a year on their child's athletics and 8% spent more than $12,000 annually, according to a 2019 survey conducted for TD Ameritrade.
  • It's more than money. The survey found 19% of parents spend at least 20 hours a week on their child's activities.

Driving the news: Colorado and the other four states in the top five for youth sports travel all are located in the West, where vast spaces between major cities require longer drives to games.

By the numbers: The average youth sport team travels about 1,200 miles a year for games and tournaments, based on an analysis of more than 550,000 teams nationwide that used GameChanger — an app for managing youth sports teams — from 2017 to 2019.

  • Elite teams journey more than 5,000 miles annually.
  • Softball teams travel 38% more than baseball teams, in part because of fewer teams and inequities in girls sports.
  • The travel is mostly driving, rather than flying, analysts said.
Data: GameChanger; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

State of play: In Colorado, teams traveled an average 2,551 miles per year — ranking the state No. 1 in the nation for distance traveled.

  • The teams that go the farthest come from Douglas and Arapahoe counties, the data shows.

Between the lines: The GameChanger app is owned by Dick's Sporting Goods and is used most often by softball and baseball teams.

  • But other sports, from hockey to golf, also travel extensively.

What they're saying: "I played sports in college and my dad never missed a game," said Sarah Schell, the data science leader at GameChanger. "Just before graduation, I calculated that he drove over 50,000 miles to watch me play."

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