All sports gear is pricey, there is no doubt about that. Buying used gear can be a great way for athletes (and their parents!) to save money when beginning a sport such as hockey or lacrosse. If the player is a little guy or gal, you can find some really great deals on equipment that looks and smells fairly new, since the kids tend to grow out of the gear quickly. Unfortunately, you do not know where that equipment has been and most second hand stores are not going to sanitize the equipment before they sell it to you. Older and larger teens and adults can still find good equipment, that for the most part looks decent, but (most of the time) smells AWFUL!
There is no need for any athlete small or large, young or old, to wear dirty sporting gear. Almost all gear can be washed in a washing machine on a gentle cycle with regular laundry detergent. There are also a bunch of specially formulated laundry additives that help to get the stench out of protective padding. All any athlete needs to do to have non-offensive smelling gear is to wash it and then hang it to dry.
We purchased some goalie gear size Senior XL from a guy on Craigslist and got one awesome deal, but the chest protector, glove, and blocker were pretty *ripe*. Unfortunately these items were too big for our washing machine. So, we hand washed them in our utility sink, hung them to dry, and have continued to hang them after each use... no more stench.
During the Summer after a camp session or Sticks and Pucks, we'll hang the gear out in the sun. The gear dries super fast outside, and UV light helps as a sanitizer. Of course the hanging plant needs to give up its space on the garden hook, but I don't think it minds :)