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Say NO to playing select sports year-round.

My daughter is doing her senior project on this subject. Her instructor wasn’t crazy about the idea, but my daughter was adamant that it was an important topic and stuck to her guns. I agree. Today’s young athletes start specializing way too early and often for all the wrong reasons.

When I was young we played select sports because we loved to play. We wanted to play more and try to be the best. Today young athletes (often with pressure from their parents) play because they believe it will give them the upper hand for an athletic scholarship. But what most don’t understand is that playing one sport year round not only costs more than college itself, it often puts young athletes in harm’s way emotionally and physically.

 Fact: Less than 2% of high school athletes receive an athletic scholarship to help pay for college, of those very few are full-ride scholarships.

 Fact: Playing year-round sports from a young age leads to overuse injuries and burnout.

Early and continual play of a specific sport does not come with a guarantee of a college athletic scholarship, but it does come with a big price tag. Select sports teams are big business these day. Playing on a top-level team can cost between $8000-$10,000 a year. Yes, I said one year. And many parents pay for private lessons for the athletes as well. The money spent on these programs could go to their college tuition and their high school programs, many of which struggle with funding. (When I took over a head coaching position the program had $4 and 4 uniforms. This is unacceptable and another blog all its own).

I’m not saying athletes that love a specific sport shouldn’t play it more. I just think as a society we’ve gone over the top. I love basketball and played select during high school, but I didn’t pay to play. Instead my teammates and I had to fundraise to travel, we had to work together on and off the court to be successful. A lesson all it’s own. And I participated in different sports throughout high school, giving my body and mind the opportunity to rest and grow.

I say YES to all athletics!!! I love sports. But let’s keep our children’s bodies and minds healthy. Young athletes should try different sports and activities and wait until they are older to start playing select sports. Remember, variety is the spice of life.


  • OVER ONE HALF of middle school and high school athlete’s INJURIES ARE DUE TO OVERUSE, which means that half of youth sports injuries are preventable.
  • OVERUSE INJURIES ARE CAUSED BY USING THE SAME MUSCLES AND LIGIMENTS OVER AND OVER. As a result they snap, break, and tear. This includes stress fractures, osteochondral injuries and problems with growth plates.
  • There has been a 400 % INCREASE in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in teens and adolescents over a 10 year period in Philadelphia
  • According to Dr. David Grey, director of Orthopedics at Cook Children’s Hospital, there is a lot of pressure in the select world of sports to play one sport year-round, and with this, athletes get a lot of REPETITIVE TRAUMA and are more PRONE TO INJURIES in general.
  • Cross training can help to ease the stress that youth put on their body by building up different muscles, and not overusing them. PLAYING MULTIPLE SPORTS BUILDS A HEALTHIER CHILD.
  • 45% OF PLAYERS 6-17 YEARS OLD QUIT A SPORT they were playing. Top reason: they weren’t having fun.
  • Burnout occurs as a combination of TOO MUCH TIME SPENT PLAYING one sport and EMOTIONAL PRESSURE from parents.

Books related to burnout:

The Sport Parent’s Manual: What Young Athletes Really Want Their Parent’s to Know.

Whose Game Is It, Anyway?: A Guide to Helping Your Child Get the Most from Sport, Organized by Age and Stage.

Link to Athletic Scholarship information:

8 Things You Should Know About Sports Scholarships (CBS News)