When the author was growing up, it didn't cost his parents anything for him to play basketball beyond the cost of the ball itself. They had no uniforms, paid no club participation fees, and incurred no travel costs. There were no travel teams or paid lessons back then. He played at the neighborhood basketball courts. He loved basketball from the start and learned many lessons from the game. Although he never played professionally, it became his lifelong athletic passion. So the return on that small initial investment in the ball was pretty high. Today, youth sports is a multibillion-dollar industry.