One of the saddest developments in sports — at all levels — is the growing trend of youth and high school athletes specializing in one sport and playing that sport year-round. The results aren’t pretty. The professionalization of young athletes is resulting in more cases of overuse injuries, putting the future health and mobility of these young athletes in jeopardy. See “Year-Round Sports Lead to Injury Epidemic Among Athletes.”
“The amount of teenagers coming in [for overuse injuries] over the past five to ten years has dramatically changed,” says Dr. Mark Lawler, an orthopedic surgeon. “We call it an epidemic.”
Lawler says overuse injuries are becoming especially prevalent with teen females, a growth demographic for year-round club sports organizations. Year-round sports specialization causes stress on the same muscles and joints over and over again, with very little recovery time. However, complete rest isn’t necessary. Simply playing other sports or taking part in different exercises is enough to help the body recover.
“You don’t ultimately have to rest,” says Lawler. “What you have to do is cross-train and do some other activities so you can stay active with an overuse injury.”
There are a growing number of programs designed to reduce the number of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, especially for teen females. However, no prevention program is a match for overzealous coaches and parents who continue to subject their young athletes to sports specialization on a year-round basis.
“The whole notion of sport-specificity at a very young age is extremely dangerous,” says Holly Silvers, director of research at the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation. “You’re basically using the same muscles all year round. That’s why these [injury] numbers continue to increase.” See “New Steps to Help Prevent Knee Injuries in Teen Sports.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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