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Article:Note to Parents: You are Screwing Up your Kid

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I was discussing my article to a friend of mine (we will call him Dr "Jamel" just to irritate some of you :) ), he's an orthopedic surgeon, and he shared an interesting story with me that occured to him yesterday.

He had a young boy, age 7, who came in with a severe sprain/strain to his ankle (I did the MRI read for him this morning), as they were worried that he did in fact fracture it (he didn't) or even tear some of his ligaments (he didn't). This young boy hurt his ankle playing basketball. When my friend, Dr "Jamel", asked him if he played any other sports the answer he got was "NO! I like basketball. I only play basketball!". Dr "Jamel" asked him if he ever played any other sports or if he was interested in playing any other sports. Answer he got was "No! My dad said that if I want to make it in the NBA I should only play basketball. Always basketball". Dr Jamel scratched his head a little and asked him if he WANTED to play any other sports, like baseball, or football. "No because then I won't make the NBA".  Dr Jamel laughed, told him to come back today and he would go over the MRI reports reassuring a 7 year old that his basketball career was still in tact.

When I was a young kid that age I played baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey, football, swam, down hill skiing, and volleyball. It wasn't until the age of around 10 that I started focussing more on football and hockey as my sport of choice. For hockey I was even scouted as a young kid and they kept saying "If he grows he has a chance...."; I never grew, end of story (I'm only 5'10")

Now I'm not amazing at each and everyone of these sports but I can play each sport relatively well. I golf now too, still play hockey in a men's league, and play a little fun baseball in the summer. Dr "Jamel" and I didn't grow up together but he too played a ton of different sports very early as a boy and also told me that he's "okay at each one of them". We started discussing how kids don't do this anymore, as from day 1 they focus on only 1 sport and concentrate all their energy mastering those skills. We then started to discuss if this was a positive thing or a negative.

It was still early in the night and we decided to have some drinks so we invited a friend of ours "Bryant", who is a physical therapist and specializes in sports rehabillitation, to come along. The discussion got brought up again and my friend "Bryant" went on a rampage on how he believes this new trend of playing only one sport is screwing up kids, both with injuries and skill levels. Since he rehabs these kids he was telling us how 99% of the kids, for example who play basketball (it's very popular here), have NO balance, proprioception, and feet skills. They can't even stand on one foot without falling down, can't even really kick a ball.... basically have no eye-foot coordination or real ankle stabillity. He also rehabed a young kid, 12 years old, for a shoulder injury who played soccer. Amazing feet skills (which makes sense) but NO hand-eye coordination. He sees this all day long.

So again, Frank, what's the point here right? Well when we were all kids playing all sports we developed good hand-eye coordination, foot-eye coordination, balance, slow-twitch muscle endurance, fast-twitch muscle explosion fibers.... basically all round good development to make us a good "athlete". I don't think anyone is going to argue with me that in all sports you have to be great rounded and have great hand-eye coordination, foot-eye coordination, feet skills, hand skills, etc, etc. Each and every sport is different and develops these sense and abilities differently. Kids aren't being taught anymore to be "athletes", they are instead being taught to be "baseball players", "basketball players", "soccer players", "football players".

"Bryant" and "Jamel" kept saying that they mostly see injuries to very young kids on the body parts that are least involved in that particular sport....... which would seem like the opposite to be true. 

So my point here is that don't you think it would be better to expose your YOUNG kid to as many sports as humanly possible, let him and her develop all these different skills, and when they reach a certain age, then start focussing in on one sport.  Exposing them to different sports at any early age, when they are developing and can learn at the fast learning, developing age (like teaching a kid a 2nd language early), will make them better "athletes" which will help them in the long run at their particular sport.

So I personally URGE parents to stop the new trend and make sure you expose your young "athlete" to as many different sports and skills as possible. Wait! Wait! Wait! until you focus in on that ONE sport... in the long run it will pay off!

Some of the greats in the world of sports are AMAZING athletes who can play multiple sports well-- basketball AND baseball, football AND baseball, stuff like that.

So don't screw up your kid. Don't relive your youth thru them. Let them play. Let them play ALL sports.

Have a good one. Enjoy the extra day of the year.

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