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Meadowlark

Oh dear, would you spend $1200 on a baseball tournament?

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I will start with this. We are a family of 8. We are frugal. We don't spend money frivolously.

So here's the deal. Both of my son's will be on a travel baseball team this summer. My older son has been on the team for 2 years. We thought long and hard about this decision as we have 6 kids and we all know what traveling sports entails. However-we were told that the 5 or so tournaments would all be within 1-1.5 hours away, which they have been. Last summer the last tournament was 1.5 hours away and yes, the team got hotel rooms. My husband and the boys stayed over and I took the girls home so that we didn't have to get 2 rooms. The hotel room was about $100 and the boys played for 6 hours in the pool after the tournament. They had the time of their lives and since it wasn't too much $, we were fine with it.

We just got an email from the coach about this summer's last tournament. It's 2.5 hours away and in the Wisconsin Dells-so a bigger deal. But here's the thing. The tournament is requiring the team to stay at 1 of 2 hotel options. One is $219/night and the other $269/night plus resort fee of $25 and tax. And we would have to get two rooms if we all went-which we would all WANT to obviously to cheer on our boys for the last tourney. That's not food, that's not the tournament fee, etc etc. If we got 2 rooms, we're talking $1200-1500 by the time it's all said and done. Just writing that makes me want to vomit.

Here's my question: What would YOU do?

1. Pay the $ no matter what it costs 
2. Send just the boys and pay half that amount ($600-700)
3. Tell the coach my boys can't play
4. Sneak away and stay 1/2 hour away (and possibly get in trouble for it)
5. Drive the 2.5 hours to and fro for 3 days
6. something else?

I will also add that having two kids playing means we won't be at the hotel at all, and so won't get to even use the gorgeous outdoor waterpark. And even if  we did, the whole point of staying together is mute because the resort is gigantic, and the boys wouldn't even be able to find each other!

Finally. This team has been a complete blessing for us up until now. The coach is amazing and we have become a "family". We don't want to leave-our kids would be devastated! 

ETA: The team would be assessed a $150 fee if players do not stay at one of the assigned hotels. And, it's not an option for my boys to stay alone or with teammates in another room. My youngest player is only 8-and that's not really how this team operates. Everybody goes to these things with their families.

Edited by Meadowlark

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If it is going to be a financial hardship, I’ll opt for choice 2 of just sending the boys. If it is not a hardship, then I would treat it as a family vacation expense.

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 I think it comes down to whether or not you can afford the expense. If you’re frugal because it’s the only way you can afford necessities, I would say no to the tournament unless the coach agreed your family could stay in a less expensive hotel. But if it’s not a financial hardship, I would go as a family and enjoy the resort (and even stay an extra night or two if the kids were having a great time.)

Edited by Catwoman
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While I would consider sending just the boys, I would also just tell the coaches that you really cannot afford that kind of hotel budget, and see what response you get.  

If that doesn't have any result,  might also consider simply staying elsewhere - I really don't think it's a reasonable demand.  Yes, I know why it can be better for people to stay closer - but that is just not reality.

I might think about what the long term strategy should be if this will be a regular thing. It might be ditching the sport/legue. 

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There are amounts that I've spent on things for my kids' interests that I never would have dreamed of. So... I mean, in a general sense... I might.

For this specifically... I think I'd send my kids without me and drive everyone up on the first or final day to root for them that day only and not stay overnight. But I'm also not the mom that goes to every performance or game. When BalletBoy has performed at the Kennedy Center a couple of times, some parents buy tickets to EVERY show, which is astounding to me. Those tickets can be hundreds. I got to second act on someone else's ticket so I saw him dance with ABT twice (and got to see Misty Copeland in that performance) but generally... oy. No way. Once would have been fine.

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25 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

I will start with this. We are a family of 8. We are frugal. We don't spend money frivolously.

So here's the deal. Both of my son's will be on a travel baseball team this summer. My older son has been on the team for 2 years. We thought long and hard about this decision as we have 6 kids and we all know what traveling sports entails. However-we were told that the 5 or so tournaments would all be within 1-1.5 hours away, which they have been. Last summer the last tournament was 1.5 hours away and yes, the team got hotel rooms. My husband and the boys stayed over and I took the girls home so that we didn't have to get 2 rooms. The hotel room was about $100 and the boys played for 6 hours in the pool after the tournament. They had the time of their lives and since it wasn't too much $, we were fine with it.

We just got an email from the coach about this summer's last tournament. It's 2.5 hours away and in the Wisconsin Dells-so a bigger deal. But here's the thing. The tournament is requiring the team to stay at 1 of 2 hotel options. One is $219/night and the other $269/night plus resort fee of $25 and tax. And we would have to get two rooms if we all went-which we would all WANT to obviously to cheer on our boys for the last tourney. That's not food, that's not the tournament fee, etc etc. If we got 2 rooms, we're talking $1200-1500 by the time it's all said and done. Just writing that makes me want to vomit.

Here's my question: What would YOU do?

1. Pay the $ no matter what it costs 
2. Send just the boys and pay half that amount ($600-700)
3. Tell the coach my boys can't play
4. Sneak away and stay 1/2 hour away (and possibly get in trouble for it)
5. Drive the 2.5 hours to and fro for 3 days
6. something else?

I will also add that having two kids playing means we won't be at the hotel at all, and so won't get to even use the gorgeous outdoor waterpark. And even if  we did, the whole point of staying together is mute because the resort is gigantic, and the boys wouldn't even be able to find each other!

Finally. This team has been a complete blessing for us up until now. The coach is amazing and we have become a "family". We don't want to leave-our kids would be devastated! 

 

Can you get a condo locally and just commute? It would probably be less than the two rooms plus food for all. That or send one parent with the players. It doesn’t seem sustainable for a family that large to attend every event for every child if they’re all going to be this expensive. 

Maybe dad can film highlights and you can have a viewing party once they get home. 

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I would go but stay in a cheaper hotel. They can't require you to stay in a specific hotel unless you are sending the boys alone and they will be responsible for them.

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1 minute ago, Meadowlark said:

I forgot to mention-the team would be assessed a $150 fee if players don’t stay at those 2 specific hotels.

Wow. I live in the midwest, too, and just about every travel team in our area goes up to the Dells - baseball, softball, basketball, and volleyball. Those businesses up there must really cash in on these tournaments!

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They can force the team to stay there, but not your family, right? Like, if you send your boys with the team to stay at the hotel and plant yourselves elsewhere, they're not going to fine the team, are they? Because that's so far past nuts it's somewhere past Neptune.

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30 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

While I would consider sending just the boys, I would also just tell the coaches that you really cannot afford that kind of hotel budget, and see what response you get.  

If that doesn't have any result,  might also consider simply staying elsewhere - I really don't think it's a reasonable demand.  Yes, I know why it can be better for people to stay closer - but that is just not reality.

I might think about what the long term strategy should be if this will be a regular thing. It might be ditching the sport/legue. 

 

Thinking along the same lines. In what world can they penalize you for your hotel choice?? Seems over the top controlling and that would make me want to dig my heels in. Cause that's my knee jerk reaction to stuff like this. I never made a good soccer mom either...

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10 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

I forgot to mention-the team would be assessed a $150 fee if players don’t stay at those 2 specific hotels.

It sounds cheaper to stay where you want and just pay the fee if anyone finds out. Definitely an easier to get forgiveness than permission situation. I vote to find a condo or air bnb, cook your meals there, and enjoy the trip. 

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Also... actually... just thinking about this... a $150 fee for not staying there? The team could probably rent a couple of condos and pay the fee for a lot less overall.

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Is the $150 fee per team? If so, maybe there are other families who don’t want to stay at the chosen hotels and they’ll split that fee with you. 

I would also consider asking the coach about a fundraiser to help with some of those costs. Start in early spring- the boys can do things like spring yard cleanup, car washes, etc. 

I hate tournaments that require things like that. Ugh. 

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10 minutes ago, Annie G said:

Is the $150 fee per team? If so, maybe there are other families who don’t want to stay at the chosen hotels and they’ll split that fee with you. 

I would also consider asking the coach about a fundraiser to help with some of those costs. Start in early spring- the boys can do things like spring yard cleanup, car washes, etc. 

I hate tournaments that require things like that. Ugh. 

 

I really like the fundraiser idea!!!!!!

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how big of a hit to your budget is the money?

how likely is participating in this tournament to lead to other things (re: college scholarship, baseball as a career?)

I bet you're not the only family saying "what . . . . . . ?"  youth sports shouldn't have those kind of associated costs.  for many people, even with a smaller family, they would be prohibitive.

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1 hour ago, Meadowlark said:

I forgot to mention-the team would be assessed a $150 fee if players don’t stay at those 2 specific hotels.

that's absurd, and borders on extortion.  someone is making money off of this at the players families expense.

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I would take 1 room (the cheaper option) and maybe try to cut one of the nights out if possible.  Not everyone would be able to attend.  The others could go do something else that is fun and affordable.

Are you sure they aren't going to let you sleep at a different hotel?  Maybe if you spoke to the coach an exception could be made?

Another thought - any chance of sharing a room with another dad and boy / boys?

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At that age, I'd likely send the boys and one parent if it wasn't a hardship. With active kids there just comes a time when everyone in the family doesn't attend events due to costs, schedules, etc. 

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I would just send the boys with or without a parent as appropriate.  I wouldn't bother taking the rest to watch.  It is one time and I assume you have been to the rest.  I would be fuming about being guilted into spending more that I can afford though.

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I'd also be talking to parents of older boys in this travel league about typical expenses before making decisions on whether to participate or not next year. I'd also want to know costs up front. 

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6 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

I forgot to mention-the team would be assessed a $150 fee if players don’t stay at those 2 specific hotels.

Wow.  We are heavily involved in year round travel baseball (10 tournaments a year).  I have never heard of such a thing.  Who is making this rule?  The tournament director?  Is it actually being enforced?  I would call the coach and find out, and then call the tournament director and tell him you need an exception (I would probably say we have family in the area and thus do not need a hotel (whether true or not because this rule is ridiculous)).

FWIW, we play in tournaments where hotels are "assigned" several times a year and have yet to see the entire team actually stay there.  It is more of a convenience thing, but people stay wherever they want (someplace cheaper, a they hhotel chain where they have points, with relatives that live nearby, etc).  I would look into alternatives.

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My dh used to play adult travel ball.  I read your post out to him and we came up with a different perspective. Our choice would be one of two.
1. We'd send only one of us, plus the players.  We'd cut costs by bringing breakfast/snacks with us.

2. This would be the family vacation for the year.  We'd stay at the hotel with the water park, book an extra day, and reframe the tournament expenses as vacation expenses.  I could justify it in my head that way.  My only concern would be making sure the hotel had a laundry, because I'm not spending more time in that room with their well used gear! 😄 We'd still cut expenses where we could, but the tournament would be something we do while on vacation, not the other way around.

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If turning it into a family vacation is not an option (I love that idea, honestly, to go, stay an extra day or two on either end of the tournament, and have time to enjoy the hotel), have you asked about sending just the boys and how many boys to a room they'll be doing? Because if your 2 boys room with 2 other boys, that brings the cost down another half for you for their room. Then if you and your family want to go, you can stay off site somewhere else and save some money. Or go for only part of the tournament, perhaps, although I understand the desire to be there for all of it. 

If the team needs adult chaperones in order to have the boys all on site, maybe they'd pay for your husband's part of the room if he goes with your boys (some organizations we've been in have done this, even if the adult wasn't staying in the same room as teens/kids; we've never done travel sports, though, so maybe that's different....). 

 

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We were involved in travel ball and dealt with this kind of thing. It is infuriating really. We actually went to some tournaments that not only did the team and families need to stay at the designated hotel, the tournaments would drag on for five or six days with only one game per day so everyone is paying for entertainment on the down time. And the hotels weren’t necessarily close to the fields. One hotel did not have breakfast ready before we had to leave in the morning so we didn’t even get the “free” breakfast. I hated that summer of ball! 

We made the best of it. Only one parent and sometimes a sibling would go. We packed food and ate out of the mini fridge and didn’t go do fun stuff on our down time. We allowed ds, the player, to join his team for some dinners out and entertainment but we stayed behind.

The one issue with staying in a non-tournament hotel was a possible fine to the team. In our situation I think ten families had to book at the team hotel. So we had one family that would make alternate arrangements and the team was not fined. However, the rest of the team suffered with the expensive hotel and resented the one family that went off. That was kind of ugly.

We did take some trips to the beach for baseball that we considered vacations and we were free to find our own condo that met our budget and needs. That was a good situation.

If you can send the kids without you I would consider that. We did that a couple times only when we had people we trusted to send him with. While I am very supportive of my kids, they did play games, have performances without us. I got some rude comments about missing but my kids weren’t bothered and it increased their confidence that they could do things independently. Depends on the kid.

This is not unusual for tournaments. As your kids get older you will likely run into this more and more. So it is something to think about as you go forward. We did this stuff for my oldest but thankfully none of my other kids had activities at this level. We are paying a lot more for college for my second son and we have had the conversation that we are paying more for college but we paid for ten years of travel ball for the oldest.

Good luck with your decision! 

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Someone is cashing in on having a captive audience, and that's not right. These kinds of costs need to be disclosed to everyone up front before the season begins. OP, if you can't afford this kind of hit, I'd let the coach know. I'd let him know what I could do to ensure the kids' participation in the game but that I was not willing to wreck my budget for a tournament. How do other parents feel about this kind of...extortion? Charging $150 if you won't pay ridiculous fees for a hotel? Who does this? Something doesn't sit right.

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Welcome to the world of Stay to Play. In Cheer, it’s really common to have a requirement that athletes stay in a specified hotel or hotels unless you live within a 3 hour radius of the venue for multi-day competitions, or pay much higher “commuter fees”. Athletes not registered in the hotel are not allowed to take the mat. Usually this is cities that built a big convention center and have waived or lower cost facility fees if the even can guarantee X rooms. 

I’d look for somewhere lower cost nearby, and see if there is anyone with extra space in their room that would be willing to let you register your sons with them and just pay the extra person fee (if there is one-kids are often free)for that hotel room, and plan to get your boys there early in the morning and use their room as a staging area. There usually are enough people who want to be on site to make that work-and enough competitions that everyone might have to take the hit for ONE or two expensive hotels, but no one necessarily has to do it all the time. I have two extra kids booked into my room for DD’s next competition who will actually be staying in their parents’ travel trailer at the KOA outside of town. 

Edited by dmmetler
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The boys stay at the hotel and share a room with teammates.

The rest of the family stays somewhere cheaper.

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When my kids have had tournaments or competitions that required travel like this (about once a year for the past few years) I've either driven out with just the child/ren involved and sometimes a baby or toddler or in one case the child traveled with a friend's family who were participating and the rest of us stayed home. 

That has been the only financially feasible option for my large family.

Edited by maize

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9 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

that's absurd, and borders on extortion.  someone is making money off of this at the players families expense.

Make sure the fee is per team and not per player. In Cheer, for something like UCA or NCA, the "commuter fee" is often about that much over the regular registration fee. And still is often cheaper than staying on-site. Our team has a room block in a Hilton in Kissimmee for Nationals and it still is about $100 less per night, even with commuter fees-for a nicer hotel.

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41 minutes ago, maize said:

The boys stay at the hotel and share a room with teammates.

The rest of the family stays somewhere cheaper.

 

Not an option. My youngest player is only 8 so no way we could put that responsibility on another family. Plus, there are two of them so double the responsibility. We just don't know any of the other families quite well enough to ask that of them.

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Regarding the family vacation idea-that was actually our original idea! We were going to stay at a cheap/moderate hotel and stay for 3-5 days. The thing is, there are TONS of hotels in Wisconsin Dells. We stayed last summer at one for $80/night AND got 8 Noah's Ark tickets free. So, this resort is the absolute TOP price point. We have stayed here before in the winter and gotten a 3 bedroom condo for $70/night. But now we supposedly have to book through this group block and at this price, wow, hard to stomach.

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Long term, it doesn't seem like the whole family going to every tournament is going to be sustainable.  So, there is that.

But man, I know they can get a deal if they guarantee a certain number of rooms filled.  But that's just a different way of passing on cost to parents.  And I suspect it might be a way that isn't cheaper than the other possibilities.

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When my son has had to be in a hotel for a team sport, the whole team has stayed in a single room per gender, using sleeping bags on floor etc.

Or, the whole team has rented a little house or condo, and coaches and chaperone parents have stayed in it and shared the cost.  

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47 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

Regarding the family vacation idea-that was actually our original idea! We were going to stay at a cheap/moderate hotel and stay for 3-5 days. The thing is, there are TONS of hotels in Wisconsin Dells. We stayed last summer at one for $80/night AND got 8 Noah's Ark tickets free. So, this resort is the absolute TOP price point. We have stayed here before in the winter and gotten a 3 bedroom condo for $70/night. But now we supposedly have to book through this group block and at this price, wow, hard to stomach.

 

Do the other parents realize that there are cheaper options? Could the coaches be pressuring everyone to stay at this place because the coaches’ families can stay for free if they guarantee that a certain number of rooms will be reserved?

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Just reading the thread title, nope. 

After reading the details, I think it depends on how important this one tournament is to your family and how much of a sacrifice it would be. It’s hard to turn stuff down, but if we had to go into debt in order to make it work, we would say no. 

If it’s really important, I’d figure out a way to make it work. Could your boys stay with another family (you pay their portion of the room) and the rest of you stay at a cheaper place or just not attend the entire tournament? Are the boys old enough to mow lawns, babysit, wash cars, or do odd jobs to earn some money to help pay for the tournament? Could your non-participating family go spend the weekend with other family or friends? Could you camp?

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Other families on the team are probably frustrated by the cost too. Maybe since you don’t feel comfortable letting your boys stay with someone else, invite another family to have their boy stay with you. That could lower the cost for both families. 

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Sometimes the arrangement with the hosting venue is that the tournament organizers get the venue at a discounted price only if participants stay in an affiliated hotel.

Edited by maize

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I would book only two nights and send boys only. So that would be about $600. They can drive early the first day and drive back the last day of the tournament. 

 

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1 hour ago, Catwoman said:

 

Do the other parents realize that there are cheaper options? Could the coaches be pressuring everyone to stay at this place because the coaches’ families can stay for free if they guarantee that a certain number of rooms will be reserved?

 

Based on what the OP has said this isn't something being done by the coaches.  As someone said above these "stay to play" tournaments are not uncommon and they most definitely are a way to generate revenue from a captive audience.

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We declined to play on the competitive league because of expectations of travel expenses. Where this seems to be an aberration (unexpectedly high one-time cost), I think I would call the coach and express frustration and work out the options. If the penalty fee is per team, I'd pay the $150 penalty fee and stay off-site.  Otherwise, realistically, I would either drive the 2.5 hours each way daily or I would just send the boys. There are better ways those funds could be utilized in my family. I *do* think some fundraising should occur to help cover the expensive hotel.

I suspect that the coach is anticipating that the hotel costs are going to be an issue for some as he's given you such advance notice.

 

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Seems like you're going to have to look at your family priorities. Look at things like cost of specific types of sport leagues for a small portion of your family and the cost of time and money of these, look at the actual sport learning vs social aspect at each type of league at the age and stage of your dc, and how you are going to spread around the opportunities for all your dc in the future. If this one type of sport league sucks up all the family time and money, leaving nothing for the rest of the family, it's doesn't seem like a good choice.

We have 4 dc and have intentionally never joined either competitive or traveling sports teams. It's far too big a time and money suck for relatively little long-term gains. Travel leagues for young children seem more like something the parents  get a kick out of (or the sport leagues take themselves way too seriously), rather than being good value sport-learning-wise for time and money. At age 8, a child is just learning how to train and not into the serious training stage of a sport. Why spend big bucks for this now? Learn the basics, and travel in the teens when you've narrowed your focus on 1 or 2 sports. Use those early childhood years to try a large variety of sports.

Edited by wintermom

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These are your older kids, correct? The other thing to think of is that expenses are going to go up and up as more of your offspring  become involved in activities, so you need to look at the overall picture. Don't do anything now that you don't think will be sustainable for the other kids.  

If I thought it was sustainable long-term, I would probably opt for sending the boys only, with the requirement of them contributing some of the money: allowance, savings, team fundraisers or their own efforts. I know they are quite young, but many people are quite willing to pay a SMALL amount to kids putting in a sincere effort. Like $5 for a car wash, because most kids are not doing a stellar job. If you have a friend with a business that is closed on weekends, ask to do a car wash there. We had a crap location (not much traffic and a car wash down the block!) and about five middle-schoolers managed to make $300-$400 and more most years. Same for bake sales, although we did have a much better location for that. Other families are likely to want in even if it's not an 'official' team fundraiser. Do work out ahead of time how the money will be split up if you go this route. Otherwise, they can probably make some money around the neighborhood with some cute flyers advertising their CHEAP services for car washing, weeding, and so on. I'd also have them do some extra chores at home in return for the family contribution. 

I know you want to cheer them on, but being at every tournament is definitely not going to be sustainable with 8 kids, lol. I personally would not choose to make it a family vacation because, again, not sustainable, and also you won't actually be at the lovely hotel to enjoy the high-priced amenities! 

If the boys show little interest in earning money for the trip, let out a deep breath and relax. 

 

Edited by katilac

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Do the math.  Even if you choose the cheaper option for a room, that is $438 for one room.  See if there are air bnbs in the area (often much cheaper than hotels).  Add the cost of lower cost lodging (even for two nights to accommodate all of you) plus the penalty fee.  You might still come out ahead and still be able to be there as a family if that is what you want. 

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28 minutes ago, ChocolateReignRemix said:

 

Based on what the OP has said this isn't something being done by the coaches.  As someone said above these "stay to play" tournaments are not uncommon and they most definitely are a way to generate revenue from a captive audience.

 

Okay, thanks! 🙂

I’m sure you can tell that I don’t have experience with these things! I probably shouldn’t have posted at all.

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We have a budget for extras.  If it exceeds the budget, we don't do it. One of the reasons we agreed to join the archery team we did was because all the competitions  fit within our time and financial budgets. Anything that didn't fit within our budget was a no, including the teams competing in nationals that traveled farther and more frequently.  Also, we didn't feel obligated to cart the whole family to competitions.  It's just a series of sporting events after all.  We went as a family to a local one once (archery is a super boring spectator sport, even archers ignore anything other than their actual scores until the end) and my middle daughter and I traveled to Vegas once a year for 3-4 days for The Vegas Shoot, an international competition.

No one needs sports.  Kids can informally throw/kick/hit/shoot a ball/projectile at a teammate/basket/target in the back yard/at the park and live wonderful, enriched lives. Don't blow the budget on it.

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Several years ago DD's Science Olympiad team unexpectedly qualified for the national tournament.  We had to fly to Ohio (last minute, so no deals available), get lodging, etc.  It totally blew our budget!  But it is a huge important memory for DD.  Very much worth it, everyone had a great time!  However, if I knew that was going to happen every year... not sure what we would have done.  So I would say, do it, enjoy it, but then consider whether you will be doing it in the future or not.

Editing, because I see this is for NEXT summer??  I might reconsider at this point then.

Edited by goldberry

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I just wanted to add that as a travel ball mom I do feel like this is enough advance notice to tell the coach the boys are out for that tournament. It is outside the parameters of what you have previously done, agreed to, and would have expected to commit to. It is also at least six months away. That is enough time for the team to find replacement players for that tournament or to change tournament plans.  

I also think just sending your boys and dh is an option. I just think you are far enough out to tell the coach it is a “no go” for your family. That would also likely help flesh out if this will work for you in the future and if these coaches will continue to make these kind of plans. In my experience it amped up every year. One such tournament this year might mean two the next, etc.

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