I have heard the argument several times: If my kid concentrates on his/her sport they are in line for a scholarship. I have seen kids give up a sport in hopes of that exact thing happening, only to not have it happen, or happen at a lot lower level than they were hoping for.
The fact is, and the numbers show, that it does not help and in many cases it may even hurt. College coaches have stated time and time again that they want well rounded athletes.
Volleyball is one of the worst offenders. Between Club ball(that runs the same time as other school sports) and the school team many players are steered towards not participating in other sports at their school. However, in speaking with a well-respected college volleyball coach, I learned the first thing she asks a potential recruit is: What other sports do you play?
When you look at athletes that are at the highest level, you see players that played more than one sport in high school. Last year 128 current and former professional quarterbacks were surveyed: 122 (95%) played at least two sports in high school. And, almost 70% played three or more.
Top NCAA football coaches have talked about their preference in recruiting multi-sport athletes. There was a story out recently about 42 of the 47 players that Urban Meyer has recruited at Ohio State play more than one sport. Folks like Bob Stoops, at Oklahoma, have shared stories of seeing recruits play other sports. He actually started recruiting DeMarco Murray after seeing him dunk a basketball.
The footwork learned in basketball helps in other sports. The balance and explosiveness it takes to wrestle gives you an advantage when you return to other fields. You can pick almost any sport you want. And one way or another you can find ways that it will help you in another.
One big argument that folks that want to specialize give is the risk of injury. Well, recent studies are showing that overdoing it in a single sport can actually result in more harm. In the teen years when a body is still developing too much repetitive movement and stress without rest and time to recover is causing more injuries. Different sports, while using the same parts of your body, cause you to use them in different ways. Thus you become overall stronger and the risk of injury goes down.
Now, are there exceptions to this? Yes, but they are indeed the exception. There are athletes that are content and highly successful playing only the sport they truly love. I contend that almost, if not all of them, could have been just as successful, even doing other things.
If a kid wants to focus on a single sport and really wants to do nothing else, I understand and have no trouble with that decision at all. It should be their choice. But, that is the key…. IT SHOULD BE THEIR CHOICE… Way, too many times they are talked into it by a parent, or even worse, someone else that has more than the best interest of the young person at heart.
Finally, I have had the pleasure and it continues to be my pleasure to cover a lot of incredible young people playing the sports that they love. I know, for many, a chance to play in college is a dream. For a lot of them that dream was realized. Still, for others, it was not. Most of the time when a player takes off that high school uniform for the last time, it will be the last time they compete. They have enough pressure on them, let them have fun…. and remember that is exactly what is supposed to be going on… they are playing a game… and games are supposed to be fun.