Sports for the One Percent
Anyone with a kid in Little League knows that standard equipment, like a bat, ball and a mitt, is only the beginning of the story. There are unexpected costs that make the investment in the sport much more than originally anticipated.
Of course, some sports are more expensive than others. What follows is a list of sports that have high price tags associated with them. Some require expensive equipment, others require monthly fees, and others appear down-market at first but have hidden costs that can really add up.
Read ahead to see what some of these sports are.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 28 August 2012
Any sport that requires the purchase and stabling of a horse isn’t going to be cheap from the start. Dressage entails a horse and rider performing a series of highly choreographed movements.
While it is possible to get a first level horse on the U.S. market for as little as $5,000, a world-class beast with international potential is in the $125,000 to $250,000 price range, according to Graemont, which helps Dressage riders find the right horse, and offers helpful guides to the expenses involved.
The yacht brokerage firm of Northrop & Johnson offers every kind of yacht imaginable, all at dizzyingly high prices. This includes the $26 million “Mr. Terrible,” which accommodates 12 guests and seven crew members in comfort and style, and the “Gallant Lady,” which can be purchased by the discerning sportsman for $42.5 million.
“Without question, the most expensive sport I play is golf,” Troy McKnight, a partner at the PMAlliance project management firm in Stone Mountain, Ga.,said in an e-mail. ”The clubs themselves can run you an average of $500 to $2,500, depending on the quality you want.”
The expenses don’t stop there. “Just the green fees can amount to several hundred per month. That is, of course, assuming you are not part of a country club, which can run you tens of thousands of dollars per year,” he said. And don’t forget the golf balls, tees, lessons and more.
“I would estimate that I conservatively spend around $2500 per year,” said McKnight. "That's without a country club membership, and I already have top of the line clubs."
In its introduction to the sport, Croquet.com emphasizes the atmospheric pleasures of the traditional pastime of the upper crust; “The feel of sunshine on your face, the smell of fresh-cut grass, a cool drink in your hand, and the whack of a croquet mallet sending a ball through a wicket; nothing says backyard fun in the sun quite like a game of croquet.”
Croquet.com also happens to sell everything the enthusiast requires, including kits that turn a backyard into a professional course. The top-of-the-line Jaques Sandringham Croquet Set, which includes two tournament mallets, eight balls and a galaxy of accessories, all housed in a mahogany box, is on sale for $6,999.99, so act now.
Figure skating may seem like an easily affordable pursuit—how much can a pair of skates cost? Molly Maloney, an attorney in private practice in Seattle, Wash., found out how expensive it can be when her 11-year-old daughter began pursuing it in earnest.
There’s coaching, which can cost as much as $15,000 a year for an upper level skater, and parents should also expect to pay for practice, competition clothes, membership fees at the local rink, and event videos. These expenses can add up to as much as $2,500 or more. All told, parents of aspiring Dorothy Hamills can expect to pay as much as $20,000 a year or more.
And those skates? “Skates are definitely a big cost to consider, especially for parents of very young skaters who are progressing quickly,” Maloney said in an e-mail. “Little feet grow fast.” She estimated that the cost of skates for one year can reach $1,500.
When it comes to high-octane, full-contact sports that cost a lot of money and bring the risk of severe concussions, it’s hard to beat polo.
According to SportPolo.com, the associated costs are begin with the $15,000 purchase of a suitable pony, which in turn necessitates $1,200 a month for stabling. Add $7,500 for club fees, more than $1,000 for a helmet, boot and knee guards, and as much as $3,000 for a saddle.
Hunting is a tremendously popular sport all over the United States, and as any enthusiast can tell you, the clothing, equipment and weapons can add up. Pheasant shooting brings it to another level; you need special firearms, and then you need to go where pheasant roam.
Packages with GunsOnPegs, the largest online shooting community in the U.K. that helps sell shooting trips in the U.K. and Europe, lists its most expensive pheasant shooting package at £2580, or $4,084 per gun.
Burton Snowboards, the premier snowboard and accessories company, sells basic boards for about $300. Higher-end models will set you back more—check out the $1,200 Vapor and the $1,500 Mystery. Those going all-out and buying the Mystery are also advised to buy Diode EST Snowboard Binding for $400 and SLX Snowboard Boots for $550.
Archeaological records suggest that pitting one fast horse against another is one of the oldest sports in recorded history, almost certainly practiced at the Greek Olympic Games in the seventh century B.C. Although it’s hard to get a fix on what costs the average Greek citizen absorbed to race horses back then, it’s no mystery that today it’s one of the most expensive sports in the world.
As with Dressage and polo, racers will part with thousands of dollars to purchase their horse and stable it. Crocker Racing Stable, a Maryland-based training facility for racehorses, states on its website that “a claiming level race horse, racing in the mid-atlantic region, can be purchased for $5,000 to $40,000.” Those watching you race can do so while wearing a $500 Kentucky Derby Hat from Lady Diane Hats in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
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