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 #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, a SHAPE America board member, former national physical education teacher of the year, and 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.
Episode #4 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Biggest Issue in Sports Today? Brain Trauma – The guest is Patrick Hruby, a journalist who has done extensive research and in-depth writing on the topic of brain trauma in sports, most notably football.
Episode #3 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Styles with Sports Sociologist Jay Coakley – The guest is veteran sports sociologist Jay Coakley, a former college athlete who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Notre Dame.
Episode #2 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: College & High School Athletics: Where Do We Go From Here? The guest is John Gerdy, a former college athlete and NCAA and SEC administrator who became a sports reformer later in his career.
Episode #1: The inaugural episode of League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast. The topic is Title IX and equal opportunity in sports. The guest is long-time Title IX and civil rights activist Donna Lopiano.
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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