Rise in number of one sport athletes


#1

There is a desterbing trend going on around america lately and that is the specialization of playing one sport. Many kids are starting to drop playing football, soccer, or basketball and just focusing on baseball. Now don’t get me wrong I love baseball, but playing other sports has helped to teach me other lessons or skills that baseball just can’t teach.

I would like to get some other opinions on the subject like if you see it too or if you agree/disagree.

Thanks


#2

i guess it might be right, but i think its coming alot from the fact playing in a league is now very expensive making it very hard for parents to afford it to their kids, it ends up being only one sport and the other sports are played recreatively which is still a lot of fun but playing hockey on the ice ring with your friends isnt like playing hockey in the arena with other talented kids who care.


#3

[quote=“Polar Bears Sp”]There is a desterbing trend going on around america lately and that is the specialization of playing one sport. Many kids are starting to drop playing football, soccer, or basketball and just focusing on baseball. Now don’t get me wrong I love baseball, but playing other sports has helped to teach me other lessons or skills that baseball just can’t teach.

I would like to get some other opinions on the subject like if you see it too or if you agree/disagree. [/quote]

To tell the truth, I don’t know if it truly a trend or not because I have never seen anything but people’s fond remembrances of what used to be, as opposed to any real numbers from the “old” days. And for that matter, I’ve never seen anything but people’s opinions about what’s going on now, as opposed to any kind of “scientific” study.

Concentrating on just HS sports, if it is happening, more now, my guess is its because year round sports are available now were it was a fairly rare prospect before. It also depends a great deal on where one was raised. But, it may most of all depend on what’s available now as opposed to times gone by.

Back when I was a kid, HS sports was vastly different than I is now. The was basically the big 3, track and field, and depending on the school, maybe golf, swimming, or some other much more specialized sport, and in general they all had a distinct season.

It wasn’t until there was $$$$$ to be made on sports played outside the HS area that so much specialization took over. Back when I was 15, there weren’t many people who had $15-20 a month to spend on youth sports, let alone hundreds per week, so there was really no point in trying to have a tournament every week. While there are plenty of folks who’d struggle trying to devote a few hundred a month to a sport, there are a lot who consider a few hundred to a thousand a month, pi$$ money, because the game has taken on a distinct country club flavor.


#4

It is the lure of $cholarship$.

I see this in my daughters’ volleyball world. They both play volleyball for their Middle School and also participate in what is, for lack of a better term, a not too expensive “local travel team”. The coach of their “local travel team”, however, is always pushing focusing on volleyball and joining his REGULAR travel team, which REALLY travels around the state, almost year round, and for which he charges $2,000 per player per season (several seasons per year) (parents pay travel expenses of course). Some of the girls and their parents pony up. Why? The prospect of college volleyball scholarships. It’s what he dangles without promising that it will happen.

Likewise, having talked to many parents as I have journeyed with my (just turned 9) son through the baseball world these past four years, I can tell you many are being sold on the notion of their little Johnny getting a baseball scholarship to Texas, and that the only way there is to focus on only baseball and pay boo coo bucks to a travel team coach.

Now, putting aside the fact that Tom Glavin was mainly a hockey player in his youth and played baseball only three months out of the year, there is a real danger in this. That is, to the extent focusing on only baseball means playing baseball year round, then it is statistically likely to be a medical danger, as shown by Dr. James R. Andrews and his team of orthopedic doctors in the academic medical study “Prevention of Arm Injury in Youth Baseball Pitchers”, published in 2008. Here is the article:

http://www.abe.msstate.edu/Tools/baseball/articles/Prevention%20of%20Arm%20Injury%20in%20Youth%20Baseball%20Pitchers.pdf

I have searched diligently and yet have not been able to find any medical authority that contravenes or even challenges this study. Some here have tried to challenge it, but I’m talking about credible medical authority.


#5

This is really an issue more for younger kids - earlier than HS, IMHO. When I was in elementary, the goal most of us sports-minded kids sought was to letter in every sport: football, basketball, track and softball (yes, we had to play softball instead of baseball).

As someone whose coached Little League, travel ball and junior high teams within the last 10 years, I’ve seen kids who play multiple sports and kids who play just one sport. I don’t have a sense of the proportions here. I just know that kids playing one sport only is certainly not uncommon.


#6

Is that to be interpreted as “kids playing multiple sports is uncommon”?


#7

I think it depends what level they are playing at. I would highly recommend athletes playing more than just baseball through high school. College coaches and pro scouts love seeing kids who can dominate on the baseball field and are good enough to play another sport. This shows them how athletic the player is. Also playing a sport like basketball or football in the off season is a great way to stay in shape during the off season.

Once you get to college though there are very few players that can dominate in both sports, and thats pretty much what you have to do if you want to play both in college. I would also say that the overall size of college players is a big jump for most high schools which could cause injury. If your goal is to play professionally once you leave college then you should probably focus all of your time at that craft instead of splitting it between two sports.


#8

I can’t but ask a question. Do you really believe an athlete can DOMINATE on the HS baseball field and not be an very good athlete?

Dominate in both sports? What two sports are you speaking of. I feel like I’ve mossed something.


#9

My sons varsity squad had 2 guys who also played football, two were on the golf team. Now the football team had basketball players and wrestlers, obviously two baseball players. They all played intermural stuff like volleyball. My son was a martial artist (Along with baseball) until puberty then played baseball only, along with intermurals. Tim Tebow played just down the road from me, he obviously played football but he was also a MLB prospect outfielder and pitcher (Until his Sr. year when his future coach at Florida got him to stop playing baseball).


#10

And one of Tebow’s receivers, Riley Cooper, also played outfield for the Florida baseball team. Out of high school Cooper was drafted by the Phillies, but he passed to play football and baseball at Florida. I believe he’s with the NFL Eagles right now.

Tom Glavin, Tebow, Cooper, Brett Favre (more high school letters in baseball than in football!) … So many great athletes played multiple sports, at least through high school … Makes you wonder how this “one sport year round” in youth sports got started … I still say it’s driven by money and not the best interest of the kids.


#11

One factor that really, really sucks at the HS level is the overlap between any given sport’s season (including its play-offs) and the “pre-season training” for the next seasonal sport.

If a guy plays football (fall) and baseball (spring) , there’s no problem. If a guy plays basketball (winter) and baseball (spring), there’s a BIG problem.

The basketball regular season + playoffs wipes out all of spring training for baseball (during which overlap-time the basketball players are not allowed to practice with the baseball spring training squads where they would normally get in baseball shape and also be evaluated by baseball coaches). In fact, if the basketball team is any good at all, the play-off schedule will generally insure that any double-sport guy playing basketball will probably miss several regular season baseball games at least.

How the coaches at your HS treat this situation can certainly vary, but I think that’s where some of the pressure comes from to lay off of one sport at the expense of another.


#12

[quote=“laflippin”]One factor that really, really sucks at the HS level is the overlap between any given sport’s season (including its play-offs) and the “pre-season training” for the next seasonal sport.

If a guy plays football (fall) and baseball (spring) , there’s no problem. If a guy plays basketball (winter) and baseball (spring), there’s a BIG problem.[/quote]
One of the local high schools here now runs a Fall “Wooden Bat” league for its baseball players. Yes, they use wood bats. And, I hear that if you want to play baseball in the spring, you better swing the wooden bats in the Fall and not play football. So here at least, even football and baseball - traditionally many months apart - now are in conflict!


#13

[quote=“laflippin”]One factor that really, really sucks at the HS level is the overlap between any given sport’s season (including its play-offs) and the “pre-season training” for the next seasonal sport.

If a guy plays football (fall) and baseball (spring) , there’s no problem. If a guy plays basketball (winter) and baseball (spring), there’s a BIG problem.

The basketball regular season + playoffs wipes out all of spring training for baseball (during which overlap-time the basketball players are not allowed to practice with the baseball spring training squads where they would normally get in baseball shape and also be evaluated by baseball coaches). In fact, if the basketball team is any good at all, the play-off schedule will generally insure that any double-sport guy playing basketball will probably miss several regular season baseball games at least.

How the coaches at your HS treat this situation can certainly vary, but I think that’s where some of the pressure comes from to lay off of one sport at the expense of another.[/quote]

I think you’re pretty much correct, but I’ve seen a lot of HS baseball teams who’ve had at least a couple basketball players on them, and its never once been an issue I’ve ever seen. Maybe its different down your way, but up this way the first several games of the season have little significance. Our league games don’t usually begin until the middle of April, and that’s long after basketball’s well over, and those players have plenty of time to get into the groove.


#14

“…but I’ve seen a lot of HS baseball teams who’ve had at least a couple basketball players on them…”

-------Me too, but I think that strengthens my point when you compare how many football guys also play baseball.

The same metrics are in play for football/basketball guys…the end of regular season HS football + play-offs overlaps with pre-season training for basketball and perhaps the beginning of regular season basketball.

It doesn’t really matter whether the baseball season or the basketball season starts out with “unimportant” non-league play…by the time guys are done playing their earlier-season sport the coaches of the next-season sport have conducted all of the pre-season training and evaluations that they are able to do. Rosters are set toward the end of pre-season training, JV vs V decisions are made then, and yes, there is always going to be some wiggle-room for the more talented athletes…but I’m just saying, all of this pressure goes toward making athletes choose one sport, at least in the cases where two favorite sports may overlap with one another.


#15

[quote=“laflippin”]-------Me too, but I think that strengthens my point when you compare how many football guys also play baseball.

The same metrics are in play for football/basketball guys…the end of regular season HS football + play-offs overlaps with pre-season training for basketball and perhaps the beginning of regular season basketball.

It doesn’t really matter whether the baseball season or the basketball season starts out with “unimportant” non-league play…by the time guys are done playing their earlier-season sport the coaches of the next-season sport have conducted all of the pre-season training and evaluations that they are able to do. Rosters are set toward the end of pre-season training, JV vs V decisions are made then, and yes, there is always going to be some wiggle-room for the more talented athletes…but I’m just saying, all of this pressure goes toward making athletes choose one sport, at least in the cases where two favorite sports may overlap with one another.[/quote]

I agree that the weighing of players skills by the coaches is mostly done, but little of that weighing is done in a vacuum. By the time players get to the V, chances are the coaching staff has a pretty good handle on the player’s skills relative to the later season sport. There are issues though. FI, 2 years ago, a kid from SC transferred here. Supposedly he was a 2 year V baseball and Basketball player, and he’d gotten here too late for summer ball.

Our coach told him that he had no problem with him playing basketball, but if he didn’t play fall ball, all he could do was guarantee him a spot on the spring team, and he’d have to spend a lot of time trying to convince the coaches he should be kept on the team once the league schedule started. That was the only guarantee he could make and still be fair to the other players.

Turns out the boy played fall ball, and by the time it was over, our coaches had to seek a doctor’s care for something that lasted more than 3 hours. So, there was no problem at all in the spring. The next year it wasn’t even an issue. He earned his spot from his play during the season, and the summer, and could have skipped fall ball but he didn’t.

So, I suppose he was “pressured” into one sport, but the reality turned out that he was so freakin’ good, he could literally have done anything he wanted and he would still have been on both teams. Its much more difficult for players of lower “quality” because they have no leverage, and in that sense I’d agree they’re pushed into one sport.


#16

I can’t but ask a question. Do you really believe an athlete can DOMINATE on the HS baseball field and not be an very good athlete?

Dominate in both sports? What two sports are you speaking of. I feel like I’ve mossed something.[/quote]

Absolutely you can dominate on a HS baseball field and not be a very good athlete. I wouldn’t say its common but I have seen pitchers in HS throw 90-95 off the mound but couldnt bat over .220, or field a ground ball to save their life. Needless to say they dominated HS as a pitcher, but they I didnt consider them athletic because they had a natural ability to throw a ball hard and couldnt really do anything else.

I was talking about any two sports in general, whether that was football, soccer, basketball… in combination with baseball. Playing two sports in college is a hell of a lot more difficult than HS. If you are talented to play both sports in college then thats great. But if your goal is to become a professional baseball player out of college I would recommend focusing all of your time and efforts into just baseball.

Did I clear myself up or not so much?


#17

I completely agree with you on this. Not a lot of people understand that it is great to be playing a sport all year round but you really do need at least a little break. Football and baseball seasons are long, your body needs to recover if it wants to start the next season at 100%. Why else would professional athletes have an off season?


#18

laflippin brings up a very good point. At the high school level, sports seasons overlap. In particular, here in the Phoenix area where winter baseball is not a problem, many high schools have fall and summer programs in addition to the normal spring season.


#19

Is that to be interpreted as “kids playing multiple sports is uncommon”?[/quote]
I didn’t intend to say that but, I suppose, as the percentage of kids playing one sport only increases, the percentage of kids playing multiple sports decreases.


#20

And so what does that prove to a scout? Gotta tell ya if a HS pitcher is truly throwing 90-95, the scouts couldn’t care less if can hit or field a lick. No one has ever claimed athleticism is necessary to become a quality pitcher. But how many players have you ever seen dominate with the bat who weren’t fantastic athletes? However, even if a player looked like Tony Gwynn, do you really think it would bother a scout if he hit like him too?

Its always best to concentrate one’s resources to maximize the effort, but its also wise to keep as many options open as possible.

Sure you did.