By Ken Reed
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is an amazing football player. He also was a very good baseball player. In fact, he played baseball and football until his junior year at Texas Tech, at which point he decided that pro football was going to be his career path.
Like Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (a first round draft choice by both the NFL and MLB), Mahomes believes being a multi-sport athlete has helped him become the football player he is today.
Mahomes, the former baseball shortstop, utilizes his baseball skills to enhance his football skills. He throws off balance with aplomb and uses different arm slots to complete throws just like a SS is trained to do.
“Think about a shortstop going behind second base and throwing to first. That is Mahomes rolling to his left and throwing to his right” says Tom House, a former MLB pitcher, pitching coach and motion analyst.
“I played shortstop my whole life,” said Mahomes in an interview for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
“I never had my feet under me. I was always making throws across my body. I have always played a lot of basketball and thrown a lot of ’no-look’ passes, and this is me using all the stuff I’ve grown up doing.”
Examples like Mahomes and Murray need to be emphasized with youth coaches, parents and athletes. There is way too much early sport specialization in this country.
Young athletes have increasingly chosen to focus on a single sport in their developmental years, often as young as eight or nine years old. (Perhaps more accurately, they’ve been strongly encouraged — some may say forced — to play only one sport by parents and coaches.)
The popular belief is that only by specializing in one sport can athletes reach their full potential, land a college athletic scholarship, and perhaps one day, make it to the Olympics or pros. However, the research differs from this belief. Multi-sport athletes are generally more well-rounded athletically and advance further in the sport they ultimately choose as their preferred sport. In addition, studies have shown that multi-sport athletes have fewer injuries and experience burnout less often.
“We feel that if you specialize before your junior or senior year in high school, you’re doing a disservice to your development as an athlete,” says House.
“I hope multi-sport athletes like Mahomes will keep youngsters from year-round baseball, or whatever, when they’re 12 or 13. The more neural pathways you can create, the better athlete you’ll be when you finally settle on your 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.
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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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