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 #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.
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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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