This is a quote I stole from Jeremy Frisch’s Facebook page. I have thought about this many times and have even said it in one form or another. Whenever I am speaking to parents I always tell them this. So why is it that we have the majority of kids still specializing in only 1 or 2 sports? I believe it is because most sport coaches still, in spite of scientific evidence, believe that early specialization is the way to go.
Let’s think about this for a minute. How many parents do you know that when their kid enters first grade they tell the school administrators that they only want their kid to study Math because he is going to be an accountant. Hopefully, you don’t know any crazies like this. But yet, this is perfectly normal in sports. Why?
In a previous post I have written about Physical Literacy. Being Physical Literate is no different from being Intellectually Literate (I don’t know if that is what you call it, but hopefully you get the point). In school, we go through various stages of learning. We start out by learning letters at home and practicing them when we start school. Then we learn to put the letters together to form words and then we learn to read the words and then sentences and then those sentences are put into books and so on. Then we branch out and learn all sorts of cool stuff like science, math and history. Through all of these learning experiences a kid then decides what profession he wants to go into. Usually he decides this, or he has some idea, by high school. He is able to do this because he has been exposed to all kinds of different studies from accounting to zoo keeper. After this, our student goes of to college where he declares his major and begins his studies towards his career goal. But even then the first year or 2 he is not totally specializing yet. The college still has him take some general courses along with his courses in his major. Gradually, he then takes more and more specialized courses in his major until he graduates and is unleashed on the world. Obviously some areas of study are going to take more time and the specialization is even greater. Be that as it may, it is going to take about 16 years of building a foundation before it is felt that this kid is sufficiently prepared to make his way in the world.
The question why don’t we do this in sport. If a kid is Physically Literate he is able to choose from many different sports the one or ones he want to specialize in. It causes me great pain to see a kid who has dreams of playing college football realize in high school that Nick Saban isn’t recruiting any 5’3, 135 lbs cornerbacks to come play at Alabama. I am not saying he shouldn’t play football. Go ahead and play. But what if he would have been given the opportunity to participate in wrestling, weightlifting, handball, soccer or some other sport? He might have become a National Champion or and Olympian in one of those sports instead of just riding the pine every Friday night. But because of his lack of a well rounded Physical Literacy education, he will never know what his capabilities would have been. To me, that would be a dadgummed shame.