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Top 10 Most Expensive Sports in the World

Sports is a broad category of physical activities that people engage in for entertainment, health, or competition. However, not all sports are equally accessible or affordable for everyone. Some sports involve high costs of equipment, facilities, training, and other expenses that make them exclusive and expensive.
To know which are some, we will rank some of the top 10 most expensive sports in the world according to the average costs of participating in them at an amateur level.

10. Golf

Golfers enjoy playing this outdoor sport on specially designed landscapes called golf courses, which feature holes, fairways, greens, and hazards. However, golf can be expensive due to the high cost of equipment and facilities. The most essential equipment for golf are the golf clubs, which are metal or wooden sticks used to hit the small, round, and dimpled golf balls. A basic set of golf clubs can cost over $500, and golfers also need golf bags, tees, golf shoes, gloves, and apparel. The total equipment expenses can easily exceed $1,000 for amateur golfers.
In addition to equipment, golfers also need to pay for the facilities where they play.
Golf courses charge greens fees, which vary depending on the quality, location, and popularity of the course, as well as the time and day of the week.
Public courses typically charge $20-50 per round, while private courses or country clubs require membership fees of $5,000 or more annually, along with additional charges per round. Some golfers also take lessons from professional instructors, which have hourly rates of $50-150. When accounting for all these expenses, the average recreational golfer spends over $2,000 per year playing the sport.

9. Wingsuit flying

Wingsuit flying is a high-risk sport and ranks as the ninth most expensive sport in the world for amateur participants.
Wingsuiters wear special suits with fabric under the arms and between the legs to create a lift and glide through the air.
They launch themselves from high altitudes, such as cliffs or aircraft, and fly at high speeds before landing with a parachute.
The sport requires specialized and expensive equipment, including a basic wingsuit costing a minimum of $5,000, a reserve parachute ($2,000), a helmet ($500), an altimeter ($300), and a jumpsuit ($200).
The total equipment cost can exceed $8,000 for a beginner wingsuiter.
In addition to equipment, wingsuiters need to pay for training and facilities.
Intensive and multi-day training programs range from $2,000-5,000, depending on the school. Wingsuiters also need to consider transportation costs to remote launch sites, continued training, gear maintenance, and replacement expenses, which can add up to thousands more.
On average, a wingsuit flyer spends $10,000 or more per year participating in the sport.

8. Ski jumping

At number eight is the winter Olympic sport of ski jumping. Ski jumping requires athletes to launch themselves off specially designed hills or ramps using skis and aerodynamic suits before gliding as far as possible through the air. The equipment needs alone make ski jumping very expensive, with top-level suits costing $10,000 or more. Skis are also specialized and must be waxed regularly, costing $1,000-2,000 per pair.
Learning to ski jump safely requires joining a club and regular training under expert coaches. Club fees average $1,000-2,000 annually while private coaching lessons are $100-200 per hour. Factor in travel costs to competitions and training camps, and the average ski jumper spends $15,000-20,000 per year on their sport even at an amateur club level. Only the most dedicated and well-funded athletes can afford to pursue ski jumping professionally.

7. Ice hockey

While ice hockey equipment may seem inexpensive at first glance compared to other sports, the total costs really add up.
Ice hockey requires specialized and expensive equipment. A new set of gear, including skates, shin guards, helmet, shoulder pads, pants, gloves, and sticks, can cost a player $1,000-2,000.
The quality, brand, and customization of the equipment can affect the price. Additionally, ice hockey players need to rent ice time to practice, which costs $150-300 per hour at most rinks.
In addition to equipment and facilities, ice hockey players also need to pay for club teams and travel leagues, which are organized groups of ice hockey players that compete against each other. These require additional fees of $500-1,000 per season.
Ice hockey players also face the risk of injuries, which are common in full-contact ice hockey and can result in significant medical bills if health insurance does not cover sports injuries.
Factoring in all these expenses, the average recreational ice hockey player spends $3,000-5,000 each year to remain active in the sport.
Only the most dedicated families can afford to support multiple children playing competitive travel hockey.

6. Equestrian sports

Equestrian sports like show jumping, dressage, and eventing involve riding horses through obstacle courses, performing intricate dressage patterns, or competing in cross-country endurance events. While some riders lease or borrow horses, serious competitors require owning their own equine athletes.
Purchasing even a serviceable horse can cost $10,000 or more, with top show jumpers selling for over $100,000. Boarding a horse at a stable is also expensive at $500-1,000 per month on average. Tack like saddles, bridles, and boots costs thousands of dollars. Hiring professional trainers and coaches to work with both horse and rider is also essential, with lessons running $50-150 per hour.
With veterinary bills, farrier costs, transportation, and competition entry fees, dedicated equestrian athletes easily spend $30,000-50,000 annually pursuing their sport. Only the very wealthy can afford to participate at the highest professional levels of equestrian competition.

5. Polo

Polo is the fifth most expensive sport in the world based on the average costs of participating in it at an amateur level. Polo players play this aristocratic team sport on horseback, which means riding on the back of a horse. Polo matches two teams of four players each, who attempt to score goals by hitting a ball between goalposts using long-handled wooden mallets. Polo is similar to equestrian sports, which are sports that involve horses, but it requires more horses and more skills.
As with equestrian sports, owning and maintaining the horses required to play polo at any competitive level represents huge costs.
Polo ponies are specially trained and bred for the sport, with quality players selling for $30,000-100,000 each.
Boarding, training, veterinary care, and transportation for a polo string of four or more ponies costs a minimum of $50,000 annually.
Riders also require expensive custom-made helmets, mallets, boots, and polo uniforms that together run $5,000-10,000.
Lessons from professional instructors are also necessary to develop the high-level skills needed to safely play matches at any club.
Factoring in club membership fees, tournament entry costs, and other expenses, the average polo player spends $150,000-250,000 per year pursuing their sport. Only the very wealthy can afford to regularly play polo.

4. Pentathlon

The modern pentathlon consists of five events completed over a single day – fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, cross-country running, and pistol shooting. As with equestrian sports, owning and maintaining the horse required for show jumping represents huge costs, estimated at $30,000-50,000 annually as discussed earlier.
Specialist equipment is also required for the other events. A basic set of fencing gear including jacket, plastron, mask and weapon costs $1,000-2,000. Swimsuits, goggles, and training in a pool are also necessary. Shooting pistols and ammunition are expensive at $500-1,000 to get started safely.
Dedicated training is required to develop the diverse skills needed to compete across these five disciplines. Weekly private coaching in each sport costs $100-200 per hour on average. Factor in travel and entry fees for competitions, and the average modern pentathlete spends $50,000-75,000 annually pursuing their sport. Only the very wealthy can afford to regularly train and compete in modern pentathlon.

3. Bobsledding

Bobsleds are specialized tube-shaped vehicles that carry a driving crew of two, four, or eight athletes down an icy track at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. Constructing a competitive bobsled from aerospace-grade aluminum and carbon fiber carries a price tag of $25,000-30,000.
Additional safety gear like helmets and body armor for each crew member costs $2,000-3,000. Track rental and coaching fees to practice on bobsled runs are also significant at $500-1,000 per hour due to the specialized facilities and equipment required. International travel to competitions in Europe and North America represents major additional costs.
With intensive strength and fitness training required as well, the average bobsledder spends $50,000-75,000 per year pursuing the sport. Only well-funded national teams can afford to develop world-class athletes in this dangerous and technical sliding discipline. Bobsledding remains out of reach for all but the wealthiest recreational athletes.

2. Sailing

While casual day sailing or dinghy racing seems affordable at first glance, high-level competition in sailing represents huge financial investments. A basic keelboat suitable for racing costs $30,000-50,000 while top-tier America’s Cup yachts sell for over $5 million each. Mooring, hauling, repairs, and annual maintenance on a racing sailboat costs $10,000-20,000 per year minimum.
Professional sailing crews require salaries of $50,000-100,000 each season. Factor in travel, equipment upgrades, coach fees, and entry costs for major regattas, and a competitive club-level sailor spends $100,000-150,000 annually. Only national sailing teams and billionaires can afford to campaign at the pinnacle of the sport.
Even at the club level, membership dues and regular regattas add up quickly. Sailing may be the sport of kings, but it remains out of financial reach for most.

1. Formula One Racing

As the most technologically advanced and fastest racing series in the world, Formula One takes the top spot for cost. The minimum budget to field a competitive single-car Formula One team is estimated at $200 million annually. Constructing a new car from scratch can cost over $30 million. Track time for testing and development adds substantial costs. Driver salaries for top stars like Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen exceed $40 million per year. With 10-12 races spanning the globe each season, the logistical expenses of transporting equipment and personnel are immense. While the budgets of powerhouse teams like Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari may reach $500 million annually, even smaller independent teams require 9-figure budgets just to compete at a mid-pack level. No other sport demands as massive an investment for participation at the highest level.

While many sports can be enjoyed casually at an affordable cost, these elite athletic pursuits demand astronomical budgets that place them far out of reach for all but the most financially capable. Equipment, facilities, coaching, travel, and more all factor into their lofty price of entry. For most recreational athletes, these expensive sports will remain a spectacle to watch rather than participate in. But for those with the deep pockets to finance an attempt at glory, the rewards of success could be monumental.

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