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Playing multiple sports fun & beneficial

There’s a reason for different seasons.

The earth experiences the four different seasons in terms of climate. It’s a natural occurrence. God knew what He was doing.

But there are also the different sports seasons with each played at different times of the year.

The older generations recall playing each sport according to its season, but it was not unusual to come home from football practice, eat dinner, do some homework and then go outside and shoot basketball.

There was nothing that said we couldn’t have baseball practice in the morning, go to the pool in the afternoon and then play a game of football or basketball in the evening.

We played them all. And it was fun.

But today’s generation is more focused on playing one sport and possibly two if it doesn’t interfere with their main sport or video game time.

It’s really kind of sad because today’s youth is missing out on something that they can never go back and relive. Life is short.

A few years ago during his senior year at Coal Grove, Conor Markins played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. He still got a basketball scholarship and is expected to start or get considerable playing time at Shawnee State.

Maybe Conor went a little overboard, but he had fun and he doesn’t regret it.

Young boys and girls in their teens and pre-teens don’t realize how fast their childhood will go and how much they will regret not playing other sports when they had the opportunity.

Not only will they miss out on some of the best times and associations of their life — not just their young lives — but they fail to realize how playing different sports help them develop all their skills and make them a better player regardless of the sport they are most interested.

Former NBA star and current general manager Kiki VanDeWeghe (Van De Way) said he as well as league officials prefer young athletes to play more than one sport.

“The NBA — like every major sports organization — encourages children to be active and to play our game. But we also recognize the need to re-evaluate the current culture of youth sports in this country and acknowledge the opportunity for major sports organizations to bring attention to, and possibly foster change on, this important issue.

“As part of our expanded Jr. NBA youth basketball program, the NBA is creating a platform that will emphasize skill development, teach the team values of basketball and focus on the health and wellness of young athletes and fun for all.”

The efforts of these professional organizations is due to recent studies that show the next to combat increasing focus on structured competition at young ages and early single-sport specialization that can lead to overuse injuries as well as loss of interest in participation, a.k.a. burnout.

Probably the nation’s best orthopedic surgeon is Dr. James Andrews who has operated on some of the biggest names in all sports including Tom Glavin, Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Bush and Barry Zito.

Baseball is Dr. Andrews’ favorite sport and he is extremely concerned about the number of arm and elbow injuries, especially with young pitchers.

“I think they should outlaw the radar gun. Young pitchers, coaches, scouts and parents put so much emphasis now on throwing hard that these kids are hurting their elbows and their shoulders because they’re trying to throw 90 miles an hour,” said Andrews.

“A lot of these injuries could be prevented and it’s gotten to a point where I am seeing more and more young kids in my office.”

The famed surgeon said studies have found that pitches who throw more than 85 miles per hour have a far great potential of getting hurt because “it creates a lot of stress on elbows that are still developing.”

So how do you prevent the elbow injuries? Andrews said year-round baseball for pitchers should be banned. He said pitchers need a rest period.

“Baseball is a development sport and the ligaments in the elbow need rest to develop,” said Andrews who added that showcase events cause damage with pitching prospects throwing for pro and college scouts when pitchers aren’t in shape or they have pitched the day before.

While football is the most popular sport in America, it has come under heavy scrutiny for concussions and it causing alzheimers or dementia later in life. Of course, there are plenty of people who didn’t play football who have these same problems. A lot of it can be traced to a person’s genes or it’s just called getting old.

All sports come with risks, but sitting around doing nothing — especially when someone is young — isn’t much of a way to live.

Playing team sports help develop social and emotional skills as well. It teaches mutual support, personal sacrifice, group decision-making and determination. It teaches youths how to deal with the ups and downs they will face in life.

My advice — take it or leave — is to have fun and play as many as you want.

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Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.