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For Our Children’s Health, Keep Sports Fun

Keep Sports Fun for Our Children’s Health  Parents proudly watching their aspiring major leaguers hit a home run, serve an ace in tennis, or lunge to stop a goal might find it hard to imagine that their child’s success in sports could harm his or her health. But today, games like sandlot baseball often are not kid stuff anymore.Many youth leagues, particularly those for “elite,” “travel,” or “select” teams, have become hypercompetitive for many reasons, including organizations that make money from running tournaments, coaches who emphasize winning at all costs, and parents who hope that their children can earn scholarships by specializing in their chosen sport at an early age to advance their talent as rapidly as possible and gain an edge over their peers. Their intentions may be good, but the results are not. I know because I see the injuries that result across a wide range of sports: Elementary-school-age baseball players with labral tears in the shoulder; young basketball players with tendonitis around the kneecap; junior tennis players with stress fractures in their shoulders; and soccer players who have had a sliver of cartilage and bone separate from the remainder of the joint, a condition called osteochondritis dissecans. These are serious injuries, not normal for any child. But when a developing body is subjected to the repetitive motions required by intensive training and athletic competition, bones, tendons and ligaments become susceptible to damage. Physical activity is very important to children’s health…Read more