Youth shouldn’t be limited to participating in one sport

Published 2:17 am Monday, July 20, 2009

I’m not a Dallas Cowboys fan. In fact, having been a Cleveland Browns fan since I was a kid causes me to become quite nauseous when talking about the franchise that’s been misnamed “America’s Team.”

Besides the fallacy that Dallas is loved by all, the Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo is overrated. He’s a good quarterback, but don’t expect him to ever be in a class with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.

To Romo’s credit, he doesn’t profess to be in that class. But he IS the Dallas quarterback which puts him into celebrity status and the 20th annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe this past weekend took advantage of his status.

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What caught my attention wasn’t the fact Romo was in the tournament, but what he said in an interview.

Parents, players and coaches take note.

“People sometimes today are predominantly putting their kids into one sport,” said Romo. “Age 10, they’re going to do one thing the rest of their life. I have a hard time with that because, shoot, I was like a basketball player as a kid. What if I would have just concentrated on one sport?

“I never would have been able to do what I’m lucky enough to do — play football.”

Romo wears the No. 9 because that’s the number worn by Roy Hobbs in the movie “The Natural.” Romo is a firm believer that athletes — young and old alike — benefit from playing multiple sports.

“I use the tools that you get mentally on the (golf) course for football.”

Romo once shot a 69 in a qualifying round for the U.S. Open Golf Championship and won a playoff to become the first alternate but didn’t get in the field.

Playing more than one sport helps develop different skills and muscles. Baseball is great for eye-hand coordination. Football is good for strength, agility and toughness. Basketball and track create stamina as well as athletic skills.

In today’s world, parents are worrying too much about their child being really good at one sport in order to get a scholarship. There’s more money available in academics than athletics.

Too often anymore you see things like basketball coaches holding open gym two weeks after basketball season ends. Then the AAU coaches are grabbing players for year-round competition.

High school baseball, softball and track numbers are taking a hit and the players and parents don’t realize there is plenty of time to play basketball and still play other sports.

Ironton football coach Bob Lutz always says, “We need to let our kids be kids.” Lutz wants his players doing other sports, especially in the spring. Lutz got a football scholarship to Marshall, but he was also a basketball and baseball standout.

Most people today don’t remember the late Dave DeBusschere who helped the New York Knicks win two NBA championships. He was voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1983 and was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

But DeBusschere also pitched for the Chicago White from 1962-63 and threw a shutout in ’63 as he six-hit Cleveland.

Danny Ainge, Ron Reed, Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, Cotton Nash,Frank Baumholtz, Mark Hendrickson, Dick Ricketts and Chuck Connors also played in the NBA and Major League Baseball.

And don’t forget Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders who played in the NFL and Major League Baseball.

There is nothing wrong with devoting a lot of time to one sport, a favorite sport. But like anything in life, if you limit your interests, you limit yourself.

–– Sinatra ––

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.