9 Steps to Enjoying a Sporting Event with Your Young Kids on the Cheap

I love going to sporting events. So do my kids, ages three and six.

But as you know, going to a sporting event can be a costly endeavor. Just about every part of the experience is expensive.

And there is nothing worse than spending all that money and not walking away with an enjoyable memory.

Over the past few years, I have been able to develop my own steps for creating an enjoyable memory with my kids at a sporting event.

How do I do it? Here are nine steps to enjoying a sporting even with young kids on the cheap:

  1. Set appropriate expectations. This is key. Going to a game with young kids is not like going to game with your best friend. Expect more bathroom breaks. Expect fidgeting. Expect an occasional scream as your team is shooting a free throw. Expect to watch less of the game. But all of this is okay. It is not about the game, but the time spent with your kids and the memories you are making.
  1. Choose a less popular game. This is the start to reducing buyer’s remorse, when you wish you did not spend so much on the game. Less popular games, specifically those at the beginning of the season, tend to be cheaper. For college games, I rarely take my kids to a game later in the season. And they don’t care. For them, it’s not about the matchup but just simply being at a game.
  1. Use secondary ticket market sites. There are plenty of people trying to unload their seats for games. This is especially true for the less popular games. This season, I was able to find three lower bowl tickets for $6.00 each to a North Carolina State basketball game. I immediately snagged them.
  1. Use the sites to find cheap parking passes as well. Parking can be expensive. Websites like Stubhub.com will also sell individuals’ parking passes. For the same game where I bought three tickets for $6.00 a piece, I was able to find a parking pass, that put me right next to the arena, for $9.00. I immediately snagged it as well.
  1. Eat beforehand. Everyone knows how expensive stadium food can be. Make sure to eat before you go to the game. Whenever I forget to do this, my wallet knows it.
  1. Pick something special to do for latter part of the game. The second half of a game is when my kids’ interest in the game starts to wane. This provides a great time to either go get some ice cream, explore the stadium, or find the mascot for some pictures. Know what you are going to do beforehand so that you can point them toward it if they start getting antsy earlier. I typically need to do this for my three-year-old.
  1. Arrive early. We typically get to a game an hour before it starts. When you arrive early, stadium attendants tend to be more lax, especially if you have young kids. They will let you get closer to the field or court to watch players warming up. Sometimes, the players will come over and greet the kids. It is a really fun experience for them.
  1. Watch the halftime show. You may not get a thrill out of the jump roping team, but young kids are mesmerized by it.
  1. Stay late. Like arriving early, attendants become more lax again. I have been able to take my kids on football field and basketball courts after games. How? We hung around and asked. This also lets the departing game traffic disperse so your last memory is not being stuck in a car, surrounded by red brake lights.
  1. Pay attention to the most important part. Remember, it’s not about the game. It’s about spending time with your kids, enjoying what they enjoy. Concern yourself with them first.

God has given you a great gift in your kids. Cherish these moments. One day your kids will be older and they will appreciate sporting events like you do. But until then, treasure these moments. Have fun. Enjoy a game through their eyes.

And don’t spend a lot of money doing it.

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