Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?

Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?

Find all our Student Opinion questions here.

Do you know children or teenagers who are on sports teams so competitive that they spend several days a week nearly every week of the year playing?

Do you play sports? How much stress, if any, do your athletic pursuits place on your body, mind, academics and social life? Should there be limits to how much time young people devote to a single sport?

In “Parents Should Limit Sports Participation for Children, Trainers Say,” Roni Caryn Rabin writes:

A proposed rule of thumb: A child’s age equals the number of hours he or she should spend in sports training each week.

The recommendations, more stringent than those issued by some physician groups, may pose a challenge to parents and youngsters who see intense year-round athletic training as the path to coveted college scholarships and professional stardom.

The advice arrives amid growing concern about a rise in athletic injuries among children engaging in tough training exercises. These regimens also can exact a psychological toll, increasing the risk that children and adolescents will burn out and quit sports altogether, the trainers’ group said.

“Single-sports specialization is bordering on an epidemic in terms of the risks it can pose, for physical injuries as well as the potential for negative psychological effects,” said Tory Lindley, president of N.A.T.A.

“There is a myth that it takes a single-sport specialization to succeed,” Mr. Lindley added. “In fact, we’re learning from research and anecdotal evidence that there is actually an opportunity for athleticism to improve if you expose the body to different sports and different movements.”

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • What, if anything, in the article resonates with you, whether you are personally involved in sports or have witnessed the experiences of your peers who are athletes? Explain.

  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of focusing so deeply on one sport at an early age? In your opinion, do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, or vice versa? What might be the benefits of playing two or more sports rather than just one during the year?

  • Do you think the six recommendations outlined in the article should be followed? Are any of them more important than others?

  • Would you want your own child to be on a highly competitive sports team at a young age? At what age do you think intense, single-sport specialization is appropriate?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.