Speaking of family arguments, how about the ones over whether to spend $30 going to the Bullets game or on dinner at some Georgetown bistro? Or whether to take the kids horseback riding or to play poker with the guys?
During any given week in the Washington metropolitan area, there are more than 100 sports and sports-related events, most of them grouped around the weekend, for spectator and participant alike.
Besides watching professional sports, area residents can choose among tennis, golf, swimming, hiking, running, bicycling, horseback riding, racquetball, skating, bowling, orienteering, martial arts, canoeing, skiing, fishing, hunting, horse races, car races and dozens more.
Most of these cost money and area residents apparently are quite willing to pay the price of admission or the cost of equipment, uniforms and lessons. The sports business, in general, is healthy and thriving here, the beneficiary of a nationwide recreational boom.
The competition for the sports dollar is especially keen in the Washington area and not just because of the large number and variety of sports events in the area. Washington's cultural renaissance in the past decade has given sports competition from the kennedy Center, new wonders at the Smithsonian, the restaurant business and even hours of sightseeing at shopping centers.
A review of the major sports and sports facilities in the area during 1977 indicates that attendance and revenue are up almost everywhere.
Only the Washington Redskins of the National Football League do not have to promote and compete for the sports dollar. The 55,004 seats at RFK Stadium have been sold out for years and there is a waiting list of almost 10,000 persons who want season tickets.
By the latest count, there are 28 public golf courses, 34 private indoor tennis clubs and 16 outdoor tennis clubs in the area with membership open to the general public for a fee. In addition, there are 12 private country clubs in Maryland and seven in Virginia that have tennis courts for their own members.
In the public arena, there are courts at 85 schools and 253 recreational sites in the metropolitan area. (Of the 338 sites, 136 of them are in Montgomery County).
In all, there are 1,062 public courts in the metropolitan area and more being built daily.
Those familiar with the tennis industry locally say the sport's popularity is not even close to waning and that supply of facilities is keeping pace with the demand.
John Harris, executive secretary of the Washington Area Tennis Patrons Foundation, estimates that the private courts around here gross about $7 million to $10 million annually.
"In certain areas, (the number of courts) may be close to saturation," Harris said. "To some extent business may be a little weaker in that there are more openings (for membership and court time).
"The day is gone when you could just build a facility, open the door and it would be 100 per cent rented. So you have to run a lot of different kinds of programs to fill your time."
Harris, who is executive vice president of the Skyline Racquet and Health Club at Baileys Crossroads, pointed out the need to offer other services and facilities to the members, such as a sauna, massage room, steam room, whirlpool, swimming pool and racquetball court.
Individuals newly interested in tennis are paying from $6 to $18 an hour for court time plus membership fees, which run from $25 to $100 annually at local clubs.
The Washington Area Tennis Patrons Foundation is one of the beneficiaiaries of the tennis boom. Profits from professional tennis tournaments it sponsors fund junior amateur tennis programs in the area.
In the past year, the foundation got net proceeds of $107,233 from the Washington Star International tennis championships, $21,212 from the Virginia Slims competition, and $16,707 from the Volvo Classic.
Those figures are up from the 1976 profits of $102,307 from the Star tournament and $6,000 from the Volvo Classic. The Slims tournament profits were down from the $33,000 net for 1976, most likey because the finals were held on Super Bowl Sunday.
At Capital Center, the four-year-old sports palace Abe Pollin built to house his basketball-playing Bullets and Capitals hockey team, the 1977 fiscal year has shown an increase in attendance - and, presumable, income - over the previous fiscal year. Capital Center will not release financial data.
In 41 home games this past fiscal year, the National Basketball Association Bullets drew 467,745 spectators, plus an additional 69,998 for five playoff games. In fascal 1976, the club lured 440,837 persons for the same number of games and an additional 54,565 for three play-off games.
About a third of the way throug their season now, with 14 games behind them, the Bullets attendance is 154,969, compared with 157,801 after 14 games last year. A spokesman attributed the slight decrease to the draw of visiting teams.
The National Hockey League Capitals are pulling in more fans. During 40 home games in the 1977 fiscal year, the Caps drew 437,252 persons, compared with 393,412 in fiscal 1976.
In the 13 home games they have played so far this season, the Caps have drawn 139,483, a boost over the 127,346 who attended the same number of games last year.
While the Bullets and Caps are the Center's major sports tenants, other sports events take place there. Three boxing dates this calender year drew a total of 20,654 persons, including the 12,250 for the Muhammed Ali-Alfredo Evangelista bout.
Three wrestling tournaments attracted 14,800 persons in all, and the Virginia Slims tennis tournament semifinals and finals brought in 16,545. The Washington International Horse Show, in nine dates, pulled in 76,000.
Income and attendance were also up this year at RFK Stadium and the D.C. Armory, reported Bob Sigholtz, general manager for the D.C. Armory Board, which operates the two facilities.
For the 1977 calender year, Sigholtz said, paid admissions amounted to $2.6 million, an increase of $146,000 over 1976. Of that amount, $1.85 million came from stadium admissions, where 90 per cent of the events were sports-related.
Almost 1.1 million persons passed through the turnstiles of the two facilities, an increase of 10,000 over last year. Most of them, or 608,000 persons, were at the stadium.
"Last year (1977) we had the best year in the Armory since we've been open (1948)," Sigholtz said. "And the stadium had its best season since baseball exited (1972)."
Sigholtz attributed the increase in stadium income to 14 Diplomats soccer games and a refurbishing of the stadium's private dining and party rooms, which have been the site of everything from wedding receptions to "soup-to-nuts" sit-down dinners for 70, and weekend disco dancing.
Besides boat and recreational vehicle shows, the Armory also has been the setting for a number of track meets and boxing matches, as well as social functions.
With the Washington Senators long gone, baseball fans have to go to Baltimore for the nearest game. According to an Orioles survey of fans last summer, almost 10 per cent of the people at Memorial Stadium come from the Washington area.
These Washington-area people also make up a "high percentage" of professional business people at the games, a lucrative market the Orioles hope to tap next season.
Local colleges and universities are also competing for the sports fan's dollar. At the University of Maryland, for example, 10,000 of the 33,536 permanent seats at Byrd Stadium are reserved for students at football games. The university has to hustle to sell the vacant ones.
At Cole Field House, five-eights of the 12,005 fixed seats are reserved for students and the non-student season ticket seats are sold out, said Frank Gray, assistant athletic director in charge of finances.
Sales have been "fairly constant" the last two years, Gray said.
Although the programs are operating in the black, he added, "Let us tell you things are tight, as we see it: We're competing with the race tracks, Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, the Bullets and everybody else."
Not surprisingly, area race tracks benefited most in the spending bonanza. The Maryland State Racing Commission reported a 1977 attendance of about 2.6 million people people (many of them repeaters) and a handle of almost $260 million.
(The figures exclude Laurel race Course where the meet ran through Jan. 2.)
The figures represent a decrease from 1976 when attendance was almost 3.5 million and the handle roughly $364 million. The drop is the result of a 28-day strike by track employees last spring and the cancellation of five more racing days because of bad weather.
Charles Town in West Virginia cashed in on the Maryland strike, its average daily handle jumping from $376,000 to $592,000 during the 28 days. Through the end of November this year, Charles Town had an attendance of just over 1 million and a handle of $98.5 million.