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COUCH TO GOLD

Entry-level costs for starting an Olympic sport

Illustration showing various sports gear.
Clarisa Diaz / Quartz
  • Clarisa Diaz
By Clarisa Diaz

Things Reporter

Published Last updated on

Starting a new sport comes with costs. The most affordable are those with the least equipment and where publicly free facilities may be available. According to Quartz’s analysis of Summer Olympics’ sports, the most accessible sports include basketball, where a ball costs $16; table tennis or badminton, which could be set up in your home; volleyball; soccer; skateboarding; and baseball.

The next level requires more specialized equipment and facilities, like a gym or club membership. Sports like archery, boxing, swimming, tennis, and gymnastics fall under this category and our estimated costs include annual membership. Fencing, taekwondo, sport climbing, and golf involve even more gear plus facilities, making them more expensive. Equestrian events require a lot of equipment for the rider and horse, along with stable rental costs, all of which can run over $10,000.

The modern pentathlon combines equestrian, swimming, cross-country running, fencing, and laser pistol shooting, making it the most expensive Olympic sport to start.

We estimated the minimum cost each sport would require for entry-level participation. These are off-the-couch estimates not the cost of high-end equipment or facilities used by experienced athletes and Olympians.

Basketball

Table Tennis

Soccer

Wrestling

Badminton

Volleyball

Skateboarding

Baseball

Tennis

Weightlifting

Swimming

Archery

Mountain Cycling

Boxing

Canoe slalom

Surfing

Sport Climbing

Taekwondo

Fencing

Golf

Equestrian

Modern Pentathalon

Our methodology

To calculate the entry-level cost of a sport we started with the basic equipment needed to play each sport. Online prices were compared to find the most affordable cost for each piece of equipment. Facility fees were included if the sport couldn’t be performed at home or in a readily available, free public space like a park or playground. We sought out the cheapest possible locations to participate in each sport which ranged from free and fee-based public facilities to private gyms and clubs. Cost estimates aim to reflect up-front expenses when starting a sport. While we included annual costs for facilities, we did not include the annual costs for equipment replacement such as fresh tennis or golf balls.

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