Before we start this list, what exactly is the AAU? The Amateur Athletic Union is a non-profit sports organization dedicated exclusively to the advancement of amateur sports and fitness programs. Having been around for over 125 years, the AAU now represents more than 670,000 members and 100,000 volunteers. It is one of the largest, most experienced sports organizations in the United States. With the AAU, you can be confident the events will be run smoothly and the games will be fun! So let’s run through why you should join:

Your Membership Includes A Number Of Unrivaled Benefits

So what benefits does the AAU offer over similar organizations? Well, first off, you could end up traveling to great places across the nation, like ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. The biggest advantage to joining AAU may be the included insurance coverage. As a member, you are covered in case of an injury or accident while you’re participating in an AAU-supervised practice or competing in a licensed event.

You Can Follow In The Footsteps Of Legendary Athletes

When you play in the AAU, you’re playing against some of the best athletes in the country. Many players dream of making it to the professional level and use the games to gain valuable experience and exposure. In fact, some of today’s greatest pros are AAU alumni, including Dwayne Wade, Diana Taurasi, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Verlander, and LeBron James. Even LeBron’s son, LeBron James Jr., is a rising star after he led his 10-and-under AAU team to a championship at the Hype Sports Summer Jam this year. He’s one to keep an eye on.

You Can Gain Exposure On A National Stage

In a sport like basketball, the AAU season is a crucial part of recruiting for the biggest colleges. The best teams end their season in the Elite Eight or Final Four, so coaches have to wait until April or May to have full access to athletes. They attend high-profile and star-studded AAU events to scout the best high schoolers in the nation.

You Can Make A Lot Of New Friends

Why are so many of today’s top recruits friends before meeting in college or the pros? Well, most of it is because of the AAU. As top teams play and hang out at events throughout the U.S., players often run into athletes their own age who share the same love and passion for sports.

You Can Find The Sport For You

Maybe you aren’t interested in sports like football, soccer, or basketball. That’s ok. The AAU has more than 35 different sports programs to choose from, so you are sure to find one that fits your unique talents and interests. Love surfing or water polo? Interested in table tennis or taekwondo? The AAU has something for everyone.

You Won’t Have To Empty Your Wallet

With all the advantages of joining the AAU, you may be concerned about the price. But not only is the membership inexpensive, you can even choose the level of membership you want at different prices for the perfect fit. A basic Youth Athlete Membership fee is only $14 a year, while a basic Non-Athlete Membership fee is $16 a year.

Even better? If you sign up now, you’ll score an exclusive eastbay.com offer to get all the gear you need to dominate your sport. You can check out the offer and find out how to sign up at eastbay.com/aau.