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Is There a Such Thing as Too Much Sports?

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Exercise is best thing you can do for your body, right? Think again.

Studies have recently shown a dramatic increase in kid-related injuries. Sports Doctor Lyle Micheli recently told the Washington Post that “overuse injuries” are up 55 percent in the past decade.

What’s going on?

Kids are playing multiple sports these days. In addition to having fun, lots of kids have another goal in mind: using their sport to get into college and a professional career. But sports may not be the clearest path to a college degree. A recent study showed that only 18 percent of scholarships are given for sports in public colleges, and only 7 percent in private colleges. That means you have to have unbelievable stats, like hitting .700 in high school with 30 home runs and 80 RBI’s, or throw for 3,000 yards and 40 TDs with zero interceptions.

But in a new book by Mark Hyman “Until It Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How it Harms Our Kids”, he writes (as reported by the Post) that “in a survey of 500 college athletes, about 65 percent said it was not necessary to specialize in a sport before high school in order to play in college.” It seems easier, more reasonable, and less dangerous if you just hit the books for four years in high school to get a full ride to a great college.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: What’s wrong with working hard to achieve a goal in sports during your middle school or high school years? Not a thing. But, playing multiple games in one week, week after week, seems a bit excessive. It’d be great if the schools would impose limits, but I don’t see that happening. (Most schools do require a certain GPA, but don’t limit the amount of teams on which you can compete.)

Now, I should tell you that I was, at one time, one of these kids. Soccer and baseball in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball again in the Spring. Not to mention pickup games of football, basketball, tennis and golf throughout the year. My best sport is probably tennis, but there’s a better chance that Charles Barkley will win the Masters before I get a college scholarship.

But like many of us, I just loved to play and did so almost year round, not really worrying about my body. And why should I? Well, take my friend Tommy Christakos, who’s been playing both baseball and basketball year round. There wasn’t really a down period for him, and his hectic schedule recently resulted in shoulder surgery (a torn labrum). Did he push too hard? Maybe. But taking a break now and then to let our bodies heal is common sense.

There are tons of reasons for us to play sports: it makes us part of a team, we learn to face the hardships of losing and enjoy the thrills of winning, and perhaps most important, it keeps us physically fit. However, we all need to find a balance, each in our own way. Learn your limits. As my parents always tell me: “Everything in moderation (including moderation).” Enjoy the game, but make sure you’re healthy enough to play it for many years to come.