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One in five says cost has forced kids to give up a hobby

An Yle survey found that 22 percent of respondents had found cost to be a barrier to participation in their children's (or their own, in the case of respondents under 20) hobbies.

Amiksen talvinen tekonurmi
Image: Yle

The survey brought nearly a thousand responses, with 140 of those coming from readers of the Yle News website, and the rest from readers of Yle Uutiset.

Yle News readers reported high levels of satisfaction with hobby providers, with 19 percent rating their provider as 5 on a scale of 1-5, 37 percent giving the provider a 4 and 34 percent putting their satisfaction level at 3.

Some parents, however, had to sacrifice a lot to offer their kids those opportunities. One reported taking packed lunches to work instead of eating at the cafeteria, and cycling to save on transport costs.

Another, who said they pay between 7,000 and 8,000 euros per year for three kids to play football in Espoo, had concrete suggestions on how to improve the situation.

“The main problem with futis costs in Finland, compared with, for example, the UK is that it tends to be formally organised here. Paying for a coach to train kids less than 15 is almost unheard of in the UK... here it is the norm. This makes futis an elitist sport in this country - you need more 'grassroots' futis....with the only costs incurred being an annual fee....with more coaching from parents.”

Have you or your children given up a hobby for financial reasons?
Image: Yle

Lack of school sport

Many of our readers had similar comparisons from their home countries. Cultural differences can feed in to higher costs.

“Coming from South Africa I was shocked that schools do not provide sporting and hobbies to the children. Having to pay for things that schools back home offer was a huge adjustment. Most schools there have sporting fields, coaches and leagues where children of all ages and levels can take part in.”

Direct costs are, however, only part of the picture. Equipment and especially transport also take big bites out of family budgets.

"The costs of travel would easy equal the cost of the sports . For hockey I have to drive 80km for practices and games. I have had to travel up to 400km because I want to support my children."

Another respondent admitted a reluctance to allow children to start playing ice hockey because the cost, but was also dismayed that the chances of a balanced schedule could be limited by the time demands made by one hobby.

“I would also like for them to have a diversity of hobbies, and am shocked that one would have to dedicate 5 days a week to play a sport. That is too much for such young people. It is impossible to do anything else, in that case, without sacrificing a lot of time to drive them from place to place.”

Return to a simpler time?

Some of our readers are very active themselves in helping out with club-based recreation. Coaching is a habit that apparently costs money as well as time.

"I am a coach and often spending my own money to help get or keep kids (plus my own) on our team.
The cities and the state need to help keep kids in activities (not just sports) and help introduce them to new ones (big and small)."

On the other hand, some were unhappy with the modern imperative for structured activities, as opposed to less organised hobbies from a bygone era.

"A total rethink is needed about how we use our time, rather than going to the gym, go and spend some time working in a community garden, cutting the grass or clearing snow for old folk, take old folk and disabled out for a ramble through the forest etc.

It is after all only in the last couple of decades that this work in the community has been replaced by what are in the end very selfish expensive hobbies. A return to the past and a move away from selfish attitudes will not only do everybody good, but will save money both for hard pushed municipalities and those looking for free time activities."

The costs of hobbies.
Image: Yle

Social segregation

Finland's equality of opportunity has been one of the country's most cherished values. Some respondents warned that this is at risk as the cost of organised hobbies goes through the roof and sports, clubs and activities become stratified by social class.

"I am a little irritated that it is presented as a completely optional issue. Sending them off to the local park with a football every day no longer is an option in Finland in this day and age. You want your kids to grow up as normal citizens with a normal social network? You send them to activities where their friends are.

As much as I hate to say this, it is an unfortunate actual fact that the children that "stay behind" and cannot participate in this whole rat race of extracurricular activities, are disproportionately from marginal families, obviously financially challenged, but also worse learners in school with less good social norms. As a parent, I have to make choices about what kind of social exposure mix makes my kids to be most likely to be able to deal with the world when they grow up._

Decades ago, kids from families of all stripes played together, with minimal parental driving logistics, resulting in to a society with maximal social mobility. We have been on a decline from there.
Luckily the schools do not yet segregate socio-economically, or our Finnish values of extreme equality would have been out of the window completely by now."_

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