by Tristen B.
With a lot of research around this topic and after a very good discussion in class today, I figured this would make for a great blog post for the class. Is early sport specialization good for kids? Will he/she be successful if he/she only plays one sport competitively throughout his childhood. In my opinion and in others’ opinions, no, sport specialization is a slippery slope and parents need to allow their child to value fun and development over winning and specific abilities.
With the amount of children dropping out of sport at a young age (70% of kids by age 13), is it worth it to only have a child play one sport? If they’re going to drop out of sports, shouldn’t they try as many as they can? Or, let’s say they don’t quit, and continue playing sports, should they not have a choice of sports to choose from if they want to play competitively at a high level? Why would parents or coaches shrink a child’s chance at success? In a study done by the United States Olympic Committee, they asked more than 300 Olympians (2000-2012 games) and they found that these athletes participated in an average of 3 sports until 14. This counters the argument of early specialization is creating the highest chance of success and gives us a great look into the benefits of multi-sport youths.
Secondly, sorry parents, chances are your child is not going to play their specialized sport past high school. Only 3% of kids play their sport past high school. So if you were spending a lot of money for private lessons, or traveling to be on the best teams, or to play at the best competitions, just so they’ll receive a scholarship, it’s probably not going to happen. Only 1 in 10,000 high school athletes get a partial scholarship. That’s 0.01% of high school athletes. Even with this tiny percentage of scholarships, parents are still thinking that their child is going to get one. Parents can not bank on their child to get a scholarship, little Timmy the hockey player isn’t an investment with a return; he’s a child that wants to have fun. He should still strive to reach that scholarship and reach that next level, but it’s a tough thing to do.
On a personal level, I contribute all of my success to being a multi-sport athlete. There is no way I could be the volleyball player I am without my background in playing as many sports as I could. In elementary school, I played everything under the sun, soccer to basketball, hockey to kickball to baseball to volleyball. Even into junior high, my abilities of being an athlete, not a (Insert sport here) player were what I cherished most. My life post-secondary is now all about volleyball and school, and it’s the best life I could have asked for, all because of playing multiple sports. The biggest thing that I did when I was a kid was have FUN. I played sports because they were fun, not because I was going to university for my parents, and not to be a professional, but because I wanted to smile and laugh with my friends while playing. If we specialize early and focus on winning, the child values winning over fun, and then values winning over following rules, and then values winning over the opportunity to play.
I guess I could almost title this “A Letter for the Parents of the Next Professional Athlete”, as it kind of turned out that way. I feel strongly about keeping youth sports based in fun, and I believe that early specialization takes a lot of the fun out of playing, not all of it, but other things begin to hold more value. Please, don’t raise a Tiger Woods, and raise a Steve Nash instead.
A great article that gave me the inspiration for this can be found here:
and another interesting article about “Hockey Sickness” can be found here:
References, other than the two above:
Buchanan, T. (2014, December 14). USOC: The Formula for Developing Elite Athletes. Retrieved October 2, 2015, from http://www.uslacrosse.org/multimedia-center/blog/postid/820/usoc-report-the-formula-for-developing-elite-athletes.aspx