The trend in youth sports is to push kids to specialize in one sport as early as 10 years old. (See ““Can Sport Specialization Cause Youth Injuries?“). The result is a huge increase in injuries like anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and kids burning out on sports before they pick up their high school diploma.
“Kids are now doing the same sports as their heroes,” says Theodore Ganley from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in a Time magazine report. “They’re doing things year-round, in multiple teams, in multiple leagues. Now they are getting the same injuries as their heroes.”
Parents, coaches, club sports administrators, and even some kids themselves, see year-round specialization as young athletes’ ticket to a college scholarship or professional sports career.
But many college and pro coaches, along with some of our country’s top athletes, believe this is a misguided approach.
“I am so grateful that I had the chance to, and was encouraged to, play more than just soccer,” says USA soccer star Abby Wambach. “It allowed my whole body to develop, not just those muscles I use in soccer. It helps you really get to know your body and what you can do as an athlete and I think it did help me reduce my injuries.”
The percentage of youth athletes that go on to play in college on a full athletic scholarship is below one percent. The chances of making the pros is minuscule. But overzealous adults, driven by ego and greed, are negatively changing the youth sports culture. As a result, way too many young athletes, who start out playing sports for fun, end up being damaged by their youth sports experience — physically and sometimes emotionally — because of increasing pressures to specialize in a single sport.
It’s the professionalization of youth sports and it needs to stop.
Let the kids play. And let them play more than one sport.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon