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 #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 in the year 2022.
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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.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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.
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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