I have been involved in and watching youth sports for over fifty years now. I have seen sports progress from seasonal sports, football, basketball, baseball, softball, track, soccer and field hockey. Where a child had an opportunity to play two to three sports a year and take the summer off. What has been transpiring over the past twenty years is something that is very frightening and out of control if you just step back and take a look at the whole picture.
Let me give you an example of what some of my friends go through
when dealing with youth sports and their children. One friend has two sons ages 13 and 11 years old. The oldest son is primarily involved in baseball. The youngest son plays junior All American football and baseball. For the most part baseball has become their primary sport and they play at least 10-11 months out of the year. My friend tries to be pretty conservative when it comes to how much his boys play and pitch. With this said each one has ended up with their pitching arms in a cast because of stress fractures on their throwing arm growth plate.
If for some reason, the injury wasn’t recognized when it was or they kept playing “for the team,” they would have been one throw away from major elbow surgery. My friend made the right decision and pulled his oldest out of baseball for the past six months. His elbow is fine. With the rest and not the high paced schedule he has grown a couple of inches put on weight and muscle just lifting weights two to three days a week. (Giving your children enough rest is another blog.) The youngest son is still in the cast but the rest wouldn’t hurt him one bit.
Another example is a pony league baseball team of 11 and 12 year olds who just finished playing 37 games in 42 days, including two practices a week. This means that between Thursday and Tuesday they could have played two to three games a day. Add to this the travel time. The team is in the Newport Mesa area and they would have to travel between Long Beach and Dana Point to play their games. What kind of life is this for all these families?
Some questions that need to be answered.
Are the kids really having that much fun? Are their bodies having time to recover? Are the injuries worth it? Is winning a championship at that age really memorable? Why are parents afraid to say no and protect their kids? Do you parents really think that your kid will play in the majors or any other professional sport? Truthfully at this rate they won’t make it to Jr Varsity Baseball or any sport in high school. The questions can go on and on. All I can say are you kidding me!!! Why would anyone want their child to play like this and risk their health for a game? The injuries that kids are having now are changing their health for the rest of their lives. Think about it!