I agree with @MarriedWithMoney - it isn’t so much a cost thing than what your kids want to do and what you want them to get out of it.
TL;DR: If your kids love it and you’re willing to pay, go for it. They will learn a ton from competitive sports. But check in with them regularly to make sure that love is still there. Burn out is real. If you’re viewing it as an “investment”, don’t. 99% of the time you won’t get your money back.
My brother and I played highly competitive ice hockey our whole childhoods. My parents definitely paid even more than you totalled here (especially including travel, as we had tournaments all over the US and Canada multiple times a year). I think my father wanted my brother to have a shot playing D1 or pro, a life goal he never got to live out because of what he claimed was a career ending injury right before college (sound like a familiar US sports tale?). He coached my brother from the time he was 2 until he went to boarding school for hockey, and coached me occasionally.
My brother and I both loved the game and owe it some of our closest friends, most incredible stories, and some meaningful life lessons. My dad, for his faults, wanted us to see from a young age the commitment it took to compete at a high level in any life venture. I have many friends who burned out along the way, and many who can’t wait to get their own kids into the game. I fall somewhere in the middle.
Now, if your goal is saving on college tuition or giving them a shot at the pros (you mentioned you and your wife are NCAA athletes), I would make sure that isn’t your only motivation for spending the extra cash. It is still highly unlikely to end up in one of the few D1 spots with scholarships and incredibly difficult to get a good education while playing a D1 sport. The jump to pro is obviously even harder. And then you have to worry about injuries and other things that can derail your kids plans.
As a story of two paths, I’ll share what happened with my brother and I…
I was good enough to have offers to play D1, but none with money, and hearing from friends how they would be told they couldn’t take certain classes and my ambitions to at least double major, I opted to go to a school with a great club team with a full schedule (practiced 4x a week and played 2 games a week) but none of the other BS. My brother was shocked, but I was realistic. I loved the game, but there was no life to chase in hockey for women after school. Education was my first priority. If I had been offered any kind of scholarship, I probably would have gone D1, but I think it would have been the wrong choice for me.
Alternatively, my brother is a much better player than me. Late in his junior year of high school, he had interest and was discussing offers with many of the big name hockey schools. He had a high quality “agent” (you can’t call them agents or pay them at that age), who had sought him out to help him think about college and an ultimate move to pro. Until the last game of the regular season where he checked an opposing player, they got tangled and fell, and my brothers wrist fell on the other kid’s skate blade. He cut through all the tendons in his wrist. His teammates father was a renowned heart surgeon and had him in with a top hand surgeon only hours later.
It would turn out that he was fine and playing again only 2 months later but all the big name schools had dropped him like a bad habit. His +90 mph slapshot as a 17 year old was one of the things they loved about him, and he had cut all the tendons in his power hand. Maybe he would shoot like that again, maybe he wouldn’t.
In the end, even during his injury, a lower quality D1 school kept up their pursuit. They offered a 2 for 4 scholarship (50% a year) even while he was still healing. Instead of chasing the big fish, he decided to appreciate their loyalty and commit. He spent 4 years playing at that school and he and I debated his choice often. Bigger name schools get more attention from pro scouts and it felt like he had made his pro dream even harder. At the end of his senior year 2 years ago, he was picked up by a minor league team the day after his season ended.
Last year was his full season of “pro”, but it’s the minor leagues and he makes minor money. He experienced what it was like to get traded, what it’s like to not see your family for Christmas, miss your girlfriend for 5 months straight (they have been together 8 years), and miss your first nephew’s first birthday. He still loves the game and has ambitions to make it to the “show”, but he received a major wakeup call that this life is far from easy. I spent multiple nights on the phone last year listening to him cry. Not exactly the pro life glamor you see on TV or dream about at 10.
My parents never got their money back for me. However, I believe playing on a highly competitive all boys hockey team until I was 15 was a major reason I could enter a male-dominated world like banking & investing and succeed.
Maybe they got their money back for my brother, but with only a 2 year scholarship it was probably closer to a wash than you would think. Jury is still out on what happens with his life path, and if he’s developed any other skills outside of hockey for when he ultimately has to hang up his skates.
Sorry this got so long and rambling! Youth sports were a major part of my life and continue to be a debate with my brother and I frequently.