For 2006, adults and parents should resolve to discourage the increasing practice of encouraging specialization in youth sports.
Young athletes should be encouraged to play as many sports as they enjoy, can be afforded, and without conflict with other family priorities and school.
Instead, there is a growing trend for adults and parents to encourage specialization in youth sports, starting with children as young as 8 or 9. This practice does a disservice to young people and should be discouraged by all adults parenting or coaching kids.
KMOX had a baseball coach on the air this weekend promoting a January baseball camp for kids. He said he coaches a "pretty good '9-U' ballclub" (players at or below 9 years of age). He said he sees lots of young players practicing baseball 10 months of the year.
We have had coaches tell us that Matt would not be able to play on their baseball teams if he was not available to attend January baseball practices, forcing him to choose between year round baseball or playing hockey and basketball over the winter months.
Everyone knows that 99.9 percent of youth athletes will never go on to professional sports. Most will never even make it at the college level. Yet while they're in middle schools, overzealous parents and coaches are encouraging them to specialize in a single sport.
Youth sports are supposed to be about exercise, fun, teamwork, and making friends and memories. Let's make 2006 the year when we encourage the only specialization in kid sports to be HAVING FUN!