Sports for People Rich in Time and Money
Are Some Sports a Luxury?
One of the real pleasures in life is arriving at a place where there is enough time to do the things that bring the greatest enjoyment, and enough money to do them well. Over the years, most people try many different sports, eventually falling in love with one or two of them. They usually start with inexpensive gear, in publicly-owned facilities, and with no special skills or training. However, a person serious about a sport will quickly find a way to improve the experience with better equipment, venues, and training.
There a two things that add significantly to the enjoyment of some sports, and move them out of the realm of the ordinary and into a luxury. These two things are: the equipment and memberships required to play and the time to train, practice, and participate at a high level. For example, golf can be played on public courses and even with rented equipment. Someone who falls in love with golf will buy the best equipment he can afford and join clubs that have better courses and playing times. But to be able to play on a course like the Augusta National Golf Club is truly a luxury only enjoyed by a few.
Dressage and Polo
This corollary is no truer than in sports involving horses. Some people will give up a lot of other things in order to own a horse. However, it requires a huge commitment of time and money to participate in a sport other than riding, such as dressage or polo. To train a dressage horse to world-class level can take as many as 10 years; years in which the horse and rider train together and learn to perform as a single unit. During those 10 years, there are costs for stabling, trainers, transportation, and so on. The rewards of this commitment come with competition, the epitome of which is the FEI World Equestrian Games, where the top prize is the FEI World Cup, and the Olympics.
At the top of the heap of horse sports both in cost and prestige, is the game of polo. Anyone serious about becoming a competitive polo player has to have a string of polo ponies, at least four. Other expenses include stables and trainers, transportation, club fees, and association dues. And this is only to be able to participate in American polo tournaments. To compete at a higher level, a person needs to become a patron and sponsor a team. When he does, he can play in high-goal tournaments alongside the best polo players in the world. According to the SPORTPOLO Corporation, this route will cost a committed polo lover between $300,000 and $1,000,000 a year. Time commitment is also high, when tournaments can run anywhere from two weeks to two months. However, the rewards are also great. A patron can hope to experience the thrill of winning the Gold Cup, playing with his own team, on his own ponies.
Another sport that just about anyone can participate in at some level is yacht racing. It’s possible to race just by crewing on someone else’s boat. However, true commitment usually means joining a race club, buying a racing yacht, and, to really improve the chances of winning, hiring a professional crew. Racing yachts range from 20 to nearly 100 feet long, with prices rising with length, from about $50,000 for a 20-footer to $1,000,000 for something in the 50-foot range. The largest yachts may take a crew of 15 to 30 people. Once outfitted with a boat, crew, and proper training, the racing begins. Race types vary greatly, from courses only a few miles long to long-distance ocean races to the ultimate long-distance race, the around-the-world race, which can last for up to six months. But imagine the thrill of competing in a race such as the America’s Cup.
It may seem strange to describe certain sports as a luxury, but for the true sports enthusiast, investing at the highest level can bring the ultimate reward. These sports may be exclusive, but they offer the absolute exhilaration of competing against the best in the world.