I have always been a big advocate of youth sports.
It might be because I played organized baseball and basketball from early grade school through high school. Things were much different 40 years ago than they are today. There were not nearly as many club and travel teams in the 1980s like you see now. Also, many kids played multiple sports throughout the year instead of concentrating on just one sport like you see today.
The biggest change from my childhood to today’s youth sports is the technology that is available for athletes.
Up until about 10 years ago, the only way kids improved at playing a sport was to practice. Some would also notice a change if they encountered a growth spurt, which is still true today.
However, technology has come a long way over the years, and now every athlete has video analysis and high-tech computer programs that analyze every aspect of their game and can help improve their overall performance.
That is a game changer in the sports world and so many youngsters are taking advantage of the new technology available to them, even though the cost of such equipment is a major investment for their parents.
The advancement in technology came around the same time as the physical appearance of the youth athlete began to change.
About 25 years ago when Tiger Woods took the golf world by storm, his physical appearance was a big change from the typical golfer of that time. Tiger was strong and lean, and he had a personal trainer to help him transform his body. Soon, every professional athlete in all sports began to change their training regimen and emulate Woods.
Instead of football players being the only sport where teenage athletes needed to lift weights, you started to see the same trend develop in baseball, basketball and other high school sports. Core strength is a huge part of athletic development from the age of 13 and up.
As the parents of a 9-year old boy, my wife and I have encouraged him to play as many sports as he wants to.
However, we have noticed how competitive youth sports has become for even boys and girls as young as 5. Many of these youngsters now play travel or club ball, and their families spend thousands of dollars every year so they can compete all over the country.
While I appreciate and admire the commitment that so many parents devote to their children, I worry that some could see their kids get tired of playing sports before they enter their teenage years because they spend all of their time practicing and competing in games.
It is also why I think multiple sports is a must for any child younger than 13.
Since 1997, Steve Kaplowitz has hosted “Sportstalk” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.