Making The Case to Let Kids Be Kids
For years I have written and spoke about what I believe is a trend that has had a detrimental impact on high school athletics and more importantly high school athletes.
In truth, the shrinking number of multi-sport participants actually begins even before boys and girls enter high school and that is a sad reality of what has become the age of specialization.
Let me get on my soapbox for a moment. Growing up as kids we played whatever sport was in season and we didn’t need a uniform to do so. By the time we got to high school many if not most of the better athletes played two or even three sports and the best ones did not settle on just one until they got to college.
Fast forward to today and it’s a very different story. WE being adults have not only allowed but often encouraged our children to focus on the sport we believe they are best in or, as some feel, the one that gives them the best chance to earn a college scholarship.
Of course, this decision is often made when they are around 10 years old and even sharp talent evaluators can’t predict what the future holds for most. Physically some kids develop earlier than others and the ones who dominated as pre-teens are often nothing special by the time they enter high school.
What we have also found in recent years is the growing number of youth sports injuries and one of the nation’s most renowned sports orthopedic surgeons recently said the best way to combat that is to avoid specializing in one sport and playing on a year-round basis.
Dr. James Andrews said overworking a youth’s developing body by having him or her play a single sport year-round can create problems and he also feels they should not play in multiple leagues at once. He added that young athletes need time off, at least two months a year to rest parts of their body.
Andrews recently said that 60 to 70 percent of children drop out of sports by the age of 13 because of parental, peer or coaching pressure.
There are of course exceptions and some individual sports like tennis and golf likely require a more focused effort but generally speaking we need to let kids be kids.