Young Athletes: Too Soon
by Mario "Game" Granata
There have been a rash of injuries of professional athletes in the past few years, across the sports spectrum, but what is the cause of this? Are players not keeping in proper shape, is it their body chemistry, or are parents starting to push their youngsters too early into their ‘career’ that they can’t handle the physical strain? What is the cause?
Growing up, my parents didn't push sports on me. When I decided to play, they were able to give me the proper equipment, and my father would suggest various ideas if I was to be successful, and one of the ideas he preached to me, when I was young, was that I was not fully developed yet. Lifting weights were banned (although I could do all the pushups and situps I wanted to) but he didn't want me to harm my body before it was fully developed. For this reason, I remained injury free and I was able to enjoy all the sports that I played, from season to season, with the proper breaks in between. It was fun, refreshing, and to be able to compete pain free was a joy. However, the landscape of sports for young athletes isn't that way anymore.
We all watched in amazement when Adrian Peterson was able to overcome a torn ACL and fall 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing mark. Yes, there have been some amazing advances in science and medicine that has given doctors the ability to completely reconstruct an athlete’s body, but one has to ask why are players sustaining injuries at such an alarming rate?
Articles have surfaced, in the baseball world that young players are having Tommy John surgery to strengthen their arms, but what does that tell young players? Is the risk to their body worth the possibility of being a pro athlete? With the landscape of professional sports, and the players getting bigger, stronger and faster, it’s tough for them to see the trade off. And these points were highlighted on a recent episode of Hashtag Sports that can be heard here: 4-14-14
The body chemistry of athletes in today’s professional sports is at its peak, and players (and parents) are looking for any advantage to help their children become the best athlete they can, but what is often overlooked is the time and physical strain that the human body takes trying to become a professional, especially at such a young age.
Young players that play football, baseball, and basketball, are taking supplements, doing various workouts and playing sports year round, before their bodies can handle the strain, and are fully developed, so a result is that they are physically worn down by the time they reach their early to mid 20’s.
We as fans, players and parents have to take a close look at what this physical strain places on the psyche of young players, and how that will affect them as they progress through sports that we used to think of as fun activities.
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