Want to raise an Olympic athlete? It’ll cost you plenty

Despite NBC’s long-standing strategy of documenting the sad stories of Olympic athletes who have somehow pulled themselves up by their bootstraps from whatever life throws at them, more often than not we’re watching some pretty privileged athletes in action.

That doesn’t take away from their achievement, of course. But it does illustrate the reality of the Olympics: it takes money to even get a whiff of being an Olympic athlete.

CNBC today provides an example. Jennifer and Matt Freezer, of Colorado Springs, spend almost $60,000 a year on their athlete.

They started when Elise was 5 with skating lessons. That cost $20,000 a year.

She’s 11 now — still too young for the Olympics — and the pricetag for coaching lessons, registration fees, ice time and travel is an all-in bet that she’ll make it.

“We tried to cut back on lessons but she struggled,” Jennifer says, noting that the couple has downsized and doesn’t eat out.

“We make the sacrifices and we still wonder if we can continue on this track,” she said.

It’s the cost of keeping kids out of trouble.

“When you are involved in a sport, you focus on the health of your body,” she said. “You don’t have time to get involved in the wrong stuff.”

It’s not just Olympic hopefuls, CNBC says, suggesting that parents are spending too much money on their kids extracurricular activities.

“That’s the exact money that would have funded a family vacation or been put in a retirement fund,” said Susan Johnson, SunTrust’s chief marketing officer.

SunTrust’s report found that 20-percent of those surveyed spend more than $2,500 on youth extracurriculars.