Oct 18, 2019

The fight against sports specialization for kids

Photo: Maja Hitij/FIFA via Getty Images

Growing concern about a rise in injuries and burnout among young athletes who specialize in one sport has led the National Athletic Trainers' Association to issue new recommendations urging parents to ease up.

The big picture: In addition to preventing injuries and burnout, there's also evidence to suggest that playing multiple sports can improve, rather than hinder, a young athlete's trajectory — shocking news for parents and kids who thought year-round specialization was the only path to stardom.

The recommendations:

  • Delay specializing in a single sport for as long as possible.
  • Participate in 1 organized sport per season.
  • Play each sport for no more than 8 months per year.
  • Rest for a minimum of 2 days per week.
  • Recover by taking ample time away from sports at the end of each season.

By the numbers: Youth sports specialization has had a particularly large impact on basketball, where kids who play year-round between the ages of 7 and 19 could participate in more than 1,000 games, according to estimates.

  • For reference, 30-year-old James Harden has played 881 games in his NBA career — and that includes the playoffs.
  • Add it all up and it's no wonder why today's players — after years of putting constant stress on the same bones, muscles and joints — are so physically worn down by the time they reach the NBA.
"There is a myth that it takes a single-sport specialization to succeed. In fact, we're learning from research and anecdotal evidence that there is actually an opportunity for athleticism to improve if you expose the body to different sports and different movements."
— NATA president Tory Lindley, per NYT

Go deeper:

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The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.