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 #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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