The Misconceptions of Sport Specialization

Youth sports are growing more competitive. Budding athletes face increasing pressure to specialize in a sport from parents who believe that focusing on a single athletic pursuit will result in better performance development, potentially leading to a college scholarships or even a professional career.

However, recent studies show that early specialization can actually be detrimental for the development of Youth Athletes.As Wall Street Journal points out, not only is specialization correlated with an increased frequency of overuse injuries and early burnout, some of the most successful athletes in history actually participated in multiple sports. Ben Cohen, a sportswriter that follows basketball, points to Steph Curry as a poster child against early specialization in a sport.

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1.35 million youths a year have serious sports injuries

Far too many kids are arriving in emergency rooms for injuries that are predictable and preventable,” Carr says.

Using data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the report focused on pediatric sports injuries related to 14 common sports activities, including football, cheerleading, soccer and basketball. More than 46.5 million children played team sports in 2011, says the report.

It finds that in 2012, 12% of all ER visits (163,670) involved a concussion, the equivalent of one every three minutes. Nearly half (47%) were in kids ages 12 to 15.

That’s particularly troubling, given research showing that younger athletes take a longer time to heal than older athletes after a concussion, which is a traumatic brain injury, because their bodies are still growing, Carr says. “And we know that a second concussion later can cause even more issues.”

Why are kids injured more often in sports?

 

Over the last quarter-century, there has been a startling shift in how children are coached and trained in youth sports programs. Gone are the days when kids played multiple sports with breaks both during and between seasons. Today, kids specialize in one sport from increasingly young ages. At the same time, they are asked to perform at increasingly higher levels: USA gymnastics offers structured competition as early as age 4; Little League Baseball has training programs that start at age 5.

Insurance Doesn’t Eliminate Risk for Top College Athletes Who Forgo Draft

 

“When there’s a claim, there’s basically two aspects that are front and center,” Justin Siegel of Parq Advisors said. “The first is, was the player materially injured, and did that affect the projected amount of income? Second is, was everything disclosed?”

The High Cost of Insuring Athletes by Steve Yahn

This is a huge problem in sports leagues of all levels.

The most glaring problem in the NCAA’s health care is that once a student-athlete is no longer enrolled in a university program and under scholarship, they no longer receive any medical help from their school, experts said. That is a big problem for former athletes who have injuries that limit mobility, affect quality of life and impede the ability to find jobs.

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