Play Ball - 07/15/14
Many of you are watching the MLB All Star Game tonight on Fox 17. We'll be on late tonight after the game, so I'm taking this time to write a little somethin' about America's favorite pastime.
We aired a story last night about how more and more doctors/surgeons are treating boys as young as 9, 10 and 11 for severe injuries from sports. They're seeing them younger and younger. Specifically, this story was about baseball pitchers and the doctors we interviewed pointed the finger squarely at the parents for pushing their children too early..... and year round.
The report went on to explain how baseball (and every other sport) used to be a seasonal sport. Now, it's a year round activity. Spring ball rolls into summer travel ball rolls into fall ball rolls into winter travel ball and so the cycle continues. The doctors explained that a child's arm, if he's a pitcher, gets limited rest with this ~more, faster, better, train, compete~ mentality at such young ages... and that their arms are still developing and they aren't equipped to absorb the impact day after day after day.
Some of these kids are requiring The Tommy John surgery. That's scary. They've destroyed a part of their body before they're even a decade old because they've overused it? Where's the sensibility here? It's known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction where they have to have a surgical graft to replace a tendon that's literally ripped off the bone. The new tendon has to come from another part of the young athlete's body.
Hubby coaches our son and lots of other little boys and has for about 5 years. He's been so concerned and cognizant of watching out for his little guys, yet trying to stay competitive against teams that play year round and practice 4 days a week (which our team doesn't.. but still has to play.) In a quandary and wanting to make sure he had a healthy approach to baseball at this age.... my husband called his own former college baseball coach to get his professional opinion on overuse and over participation. His old college coach told him... the good ones will always rise to the collegiate and professional level regardless of how hard you push them in elementary school. He said in fact, the more you push them then, the more risk you run of injury which will curtail any chances they'd ever get a scholarship or play in the pros. If they escape serious injury, they'll likely be so burnt out, they won't care about ball past middle or high school. All of that--- from a college baseball coach.
Now, I know when I talk to parents for interviews on this topic or even at the ball field when I'm there with my family... there are plenty who say, "Oh my son just loves it. He eats, breathes and sleeps baseball." Of course he does... because he thinks it's important to you and he wants your affirmation. Sure, he enjoys the sport, but he'd equally enjoy going out in the backyard and digging in the dirt. Many parents inadvertently push their children without even realizing that's what they're doing.
Here's what the doctors in our report last night said, "What we are trying to do is educate parents about the dangers of participation, over participation and excessive participation." Notice, the doctor didn't say, we're trying to educate the child.... No, we're trying to educate the parent because it's the parent who sets the tone and the expectation. Oh, don't get me wrong. Our expectations are super high at our house, but we do not have the expectation that our children will be scholarship ready by age 10.
God places seeds of greatness in all of us. Some of us get certain seeds for sports ability, others of us just don't. Some of us will get the chance to grow those seeds in healthy, due time. Others will have the growth of those seeds stunted by overuse, over participation, injury and disillusionment.
Not judgin'..... Just sayin'