As a parent, I found the recent article in Sports Illustrated unsettling. Some sixteen-year-old pitchers are throwing close to 100 mph in their quest for college scholarships and the dreams of professional play. And they feel compelled to pitch in every big showcase event. In fact, they are pressured by various companies to do so.
The Ripple Effect
It starts innocently. We notice that our child has talent and we look for opportunities for them to have fun and get better. Other people start to notice our kid’s talent. Tryouts for more competitive teams emerge. Travel teams, club teams, tournaments, showcase events, lost weekends, lost summers creep in. And before we can blink our eyes, our kids are training as intensely as grown adults well before their bodies can handle it.
The Parents Responsibility
Little league baseball is one of the few youth sport organizations that have taken bold steps to protect youth from injury through implementation of pitch counts. In many soccer leagues, there are restrictions on when youth can begin to head the ball. The Ivy League has decreased the number of full contact practices for their football players to reduce the risk of injury and concussion. These are all promising steps, but the responsibility still lies on us as parents to read our kids and help guide them toward safe and reasonable training and competitive commitments. Based on the article above, we cannot rely on profit driven organizations to act in the best interest of our children.