Sports Inflation Comes Home

The Quest Bowhunting Outdoors Primal Compound Bow package retails for $900.
  • The Quest Bowhunting Outdoors Primal Compound Bow package retails for $900.

"That’s nuts." I’m on the phone with an old friend in Phoenix. We’ve been talking about her son who’s playing junior varsity baseball at a suburban high school. He wants to get (have Mom buy), a Rawlings Primo baseball glove. Four hundred bucks. What he really wants is an Albert Pujols custom glove, but, so far, Mom has been able to hold a defensive perimeter.

Mom has had to buy a practice jersey and two baseball caps. Throw another 75 bucks at the school district for their wonderfully named “participation fee.” Then, the kid has to buy his own bat. You could trot out and drop $450+ on the 2012 Demarini CF5 bat. Or, if you want to diminish your son in the eyes of his cohorts, you could buy your male heir an ordinary DeMarini 2012 Voodoo bat for $190. Then, baseball shoes, cleats, pants, jerseys, batting gloves, bags, athletic supporter, socks, pom-pons, and Jamaican weed.

These prices are more shocking to me than the sports gear obscenely rich people buy for their Big 3 sports, to wit: yachting, Formula 1, and thoroughbred horse racing. However many millions you have, you can leave it all with the hard-working tradesmen those industries provide.

Got a hankering to sharpen your pool game? Then pony up for a Luxury Billiard Table starting at $177,000. Luxury has a world of choices. There is the Noblesse, “Legs and ornaments gilt with golden leafs, plain 18-carat gold diamonds.” Too glitzy? How about the Majesté with platinum leafs, or better, order a custom model. Every Luxury Billiard Table has a billiard triangle built in. One ever-so-slight push on a discreet button and your triangle slides out with the same ease as the CD player in your $2,400,000 Bugatti Veyron Super Sports coupe. Rack ’em!

Don’t like billiards but want something to do in the entertainment wing? Why not Foosball?! Feel the power! The Eleven Forty Company brings you Opus, a $28,000 stunner built by hand, with etched glass, finished in stainless steel, oak, ash, mahogany, walnut, and, most spectacular of all, the one feature that tells you it’s all right to spend $28,000 on a game you’ll never play, on-field-lighting! So, play on, Sportster, no worries if a rioting mob cuts power to your chateau.

A little too sweaty? How about a $500,000 chess set? Think gold. Think diamonds. Think Charles Hollander Collection, New York, New York. Showcase your new chess set in the bathroom next to the $5 million Hang Fung gold toilet. Charming!

The rich are burdened with too many choices and too much money. To the rest of us, in our little worlds, buying sports equipment (particularly if it’s for your kids and you’ve been out of the game for a while) is maximum sticker shock.

Just as baseball games have gone from dirt cheap to rent money and NFL tickets have gone from...here’s an example. There is an index called the Fan Cost Index (FCI). Said index measures the average cost for a family of four to attend a sporting event. The cost is measured by adding the price of four average-priced tickets, two draft beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, two caps, two programs, and parking for one vehicle. The FCI for the San Diego Chargers in 1991 was $197. In 2009 it was $767, a 163 percent increase.

Where the NFL leads, the Sports-Industrial Complex follows. A top-end carbon-fiber bicycle can go for $15,000+. A good bike, standard production model, $800.

A top-end kayak, Trak 1600, goes for $6000. A good (used), freshwater fiberglass kayak can be acquired for $1500.

Cowboys and indians. Bows and arrows. A quality compound bow and accessories — say, the Quest Bowhunting Outdoors Primal Compound Bow Package, goes for $900. It’s got a G5 Rock four-pin sight, Whisker Biscuit QS arrowsrest and peep. And free shipping.

With more and more public schools dropping more sports and expecting/asking/demanding parents pick up more of the cost of sports programs they do keep, parents will do well to shop carefully.

Which will be a challenge. All the high-tech gizmos that used to be the domain of professional and elite athletes, all that stuff is now available to your wretched child who won’t pick up his room. Then, there are the parasite industries attached to each sport. Each sport has its own sports clothing. Within sports clothing there would be expensive, midrange, and cheap. There would be cool and uncool. Each sport has its own sports organizations, training facilities, specialized training equipment, camps, magazines, vitamins, and drinks. Not to overlook the cost of summer teams, travel teams, away tournaments, doctors, private coaches, nutrition...

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It's hell out there, Patrick. At least the kid could pick up after himself.

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