For most popular sports, like soccer and basketball, all you need to enjoy them at an amateur level is a couple of cheap and readily available items like a ball, a hoop, and a place to play. However, for the most expensive sports in the world, space is just one of several costly tools and training gear required to compete.
From Equestrianism to Sailing to Polo, these sports cost a lot of capital for anyone looking to compete in them, which is why millionaires and billionaires often dominate them, and regular competitors tend to have to depend on mega-rich sponsors.
Here’s a look at some of the most expensive sports in the world to compete in.
Most Expensive Sports to Compete
1. Whitianga Festival of Speed
This sport is limited to New Zealand, but it is still considered the most expensive sport to compete in. The ‘sport’ is held every year in the country, and it is a sport heavily dependent on speed.
The sports involve racing competitions between helicopters, race cars, powerboats, jet ski, and parachute swooping. To compete in this sport, you need to own one of these things, which do not come cheap. Add training expenses and other expenses in pursuit of victory, and the figures begin to add up.
Now, we will be the first to admit that watching a race between a helicopter and a race car is fun, but the amount of money we will have to shell out to be a part of that race is just too much.
It is why you are likely to find millionaires and billionaires behind the wheel when the sport comes around. It might explain why it is only limited to one corner of the world. Then again, that might be the point.
Compared to Whitianga Sport, sailing is a more recognizable sport with spectators spread across the globe, but it doesn’t make it any less of a game for the rich and wealthy.
As a sport, there are plenty of things to love about it, the terrain and its adversity, and the competitiveness of it, but getting a head start in sailing can be financially tasking.
An estimated expense for someone just venturing into the sport runs into $100 million, with a majority of that going into the purchasing and maintaining the sailing vessel. That’s right, the primary tool of sailing costs more than the price of mansions and luxury cars.
Of course, once you acquire your vessel and all its necessary accessories, sailing is pretty cheap until the sailing season is over, and you have to store your boat. Yeah, the sport runs for just a few months throughout the year, so you spend a significant amount of money on proper storage. It looks like some persons may well decide to stick to watching those who can afford it on ESPN.
Movies have done an excellent job of showing us that equestrianism, a.k.a horse riding is a beloved past time of the rich. Not just because of its aesthetics and symbol of elitism, it is also a highly costly sport to participate in.
If you ever dream of competing in the Olympics as a horse rider, you will have to own at least two horses – a dressage horse and a racing horse. To put up those horses in an international circuit, you will have to spend north of $200,000 a year, that goes to expenses like stabling the horse and travel costs. Combined with the cost of buying the horses themselves, Equestrian sport is comfortably one of the most expensive sports to compete in.
The good thing about the sport is, unlike Sailing, competitions happen all year-round and you can get full use of your investment.
Most sports on this list derive their expensive nature from the individual cost of equipment and other tools necessary to compete in them at the highest level. Penthalon, which is a sport about competing in five different sports, derives its high value from expenses for every single sub-sport.
Penthalon involves swimming, fencing, show jumping, pistol shooting, and running, most of which, on their own, are relatively cheap sports to compete in, but combining the tools necessary to compete in every single one of them and the numbers start to pile up.
Among the five, show jumping is the costliest, because it involves getting a horse and as we informed you earlier, it can be very, very expensive. But for those who want the glory of triumphing in more than one sport, the investment might be worth it.
I think we all agree by now that horse-based sports are some of the most expensive sports to compete in, and that does not exclude Polo, which is like soccer, but on a horse.
Aside from the outlay that goes in acquiring an elite horse, you also need an extra horse or two, because in Polo, when your horse gets tired, the game doesn’t stop. Taking care of those horses, which has to be at least two, can cost up to $2,500 per month for exercising and grooming.
Entering Polo tournaments also cost between $3,500 and $150,000, and because it is also a sport where its participants get injured a lot, you can add the high medical expense to the list of things you have to spend on to compete in this sport.
6. Ski Jumping
When the Winter Olympics come around, we all enjoy grabbing a cup of chocolate and sitting in front of the TV, watching competitors do their thing in the cold. For some of the competitors we enjoy watching, particularly in ski jumping, they have spent thousands of dollars to compete at the highest level of the sport.
The pieces of equipment needed for the sport itself can be reasonably modest. The high cost of ski jumping comes from training and travel expenses.
Because of the inherent limitations of the sport, aspiring ski jumpers have to spend thousands in travel costs to dedicated ski facilities, as well as pay for their accommodation and feeding. Top it off with the fact it comes with high insurance cost because of the level of danger involved, and ski jumping starts going from the sweet story of men like Eddie The Eagle to a financial ghoul that can send you into bankruptcy.
7. Hot Air Balloon Racing
Until we were researching for this article, we had no idea this sport existed, and while it looks fun, our surprise was quickly overridden with a shock when we learned how much it costs to compete in this sport.
To ride in a hot air balloon as a leisure activity, you only have to spend as much as $300 to $500, but expenses can run north of $50,000 to compete professionally in this sport. Buying a professional-grade hot air balloon would cost up to $20,000, and inflating it would take up another $9,000. Safety inspections and acquiring a pilot’s license can set up back up to $3,500, and then you will need a crew, whom we presume you will have to pay.
Additional costs can also come from navigational devices, which combine to make this one of the most expensive sports to compete in.
8. Formula 1
Entering a Formula 1 race can cost up to $190,000, and that is just one of the necessary expenses of the car racing sport. Formula 1 is undoubtedly one of the most expensive sports to compete in, and it is why it is a sport heavily reliant on sponsors.
Before entering a competitive Formula 1 race, the cost of acquiring your car and starting training from go-karts to professional racing cars can run up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is why aspiring racers try and secure a sponsor early on in their career.
Aside from the cars itself, whose tires alone cost more than a regular road vehicle, the dangerous nature of Formula 1 demands high medical insurance cost, which further adds to the costly trait of this sport.
9. Sky Diving
Sky Diving might seem all that simple as a sport on the surface since all it requires its participant is jumping off from a high altitude, but it is surprisingly expensive.
Safety and essential sky diving tools such as your parachute, your reserve shoot, and a harness can cost as high as $7000. Other tools include a jumpsuit, helmet, hip and chest rings, and a skyhook. Then you have to get a plane.
No wonder even those who do it leisurely are either rich people or those who save for it.
Rounding up our top ten of the most expensive sport to compete is Bobsledding, a regular fixture of the Winter Olympics.
Competing in this sport would require a Bobsled, which can cost up to $100,000. Training too is expensive because it is a niche sport, and as a result, certified trainers are limited, which in turn drives up the cost.
It is a team sport played by at least two people, so equipment comes in multiples, and along with that are accommodation and travel costs spent on getting to the few bobsled runs in the world.
Aspiring competitors in this sport survive by securing sponsors, who take up the cost of competing in exchange for advertisement.