I love basketball and feel very fortunate that I was able to get my college education paid for playing the game, but because I love it doesn’t mean it’s all I do. Too often I talk to young athletes (or their parents) that have decided that they are going to focus on one sport. “For what?” is my first thought. To go pro? .03 percent of high school basketball players make it to the professional level. To get a scholarship to college? Less than 1 percent of kids receive scholarships to play basketball in college. Often the money spent trying to improve a child’s skills in hopes that the child will earn a scholarship, could pay for college itself. And often the result is a child that has injuries from repeated use and no longer loves the game. Being a part of a team is a lot of fun, most of the time, but even when it’s not, a young athlete is staying out of trouble and learning lessons that will help them throughout their lifetime.
Why not play several sports? I expect my kids (the ones I’m raising), and I suggest to the kids that I coach, to play different sports. And why not play instruments, draw, design and create, on top of studying, because as a coach I’ve seen the burn out. A 3rd grader goes full-time select soccer and is done with soccer by middle school. A Senior in high school is recruited to play Division 1 basketball but doesn’t except the scholarship because she’s tired of playing. These are just a couple of many stories I have heard over the years.
I’m 44 years old and I play basketball 2-3 times a week because I love to play. I started playing basketball in 7th grade and added AAU ball when I was in 9th grade, but it wasn’t all consuming. I also played volleyball (they didn’t have school soccer in those days), played softball, ran track, sang in the choir, and hung out with my friends. When I was on the court, I was focused, but the rest of the time I was involved with life, just as I believe it should be for young athletes today.