Oct 17, 2023 - Politics

Massachusetts lawmakers weigh youth sports regulations

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

As Massachusetts lawmakers seek to rein in excessive training in youth sports, they are looking to Puerto Rico for a possible blueprint.

Why it matters: Bay State children are injuring themselves and burning out trying to meet increasingly high athletic standards to land college scholarships, with some starting their seasons even earlier than professional leagues.

What's happening: Lawmakers asked Adriana Sánchez Parés, former secretary of sports and recreation in Puerto Rico, to testify at a youth sports oversight hearing last week about how the island tackled excessive training.

  • Puerto Rico recently banned tournament play and scorekeeping for children under age 9 and prohibited children under 16 from practicing more than three times a week, per The NY Times.
  • The regulations apply to any youth sports team using a public facility, Sánchez Parés explained via video chat.

What they're saying: "It's not about having kids scheduled every (day) 24/7," Democratic state Sen. Barry Finegold, co-chair of the economic development committee, told Axios after the hearing.

  • "That doesn't make them better. Sometimes, if anything, it burns them out."

State of play: It remains to be seen whether lawmakers will pursue legislation regulating youth sports and whether they would replicate any part of Puerto Rico's approach.

  • They're still digesting committee testimony, Finegold said.

Yes, but: Lawmakers insist something must be done.

  • "I do think we have to take a hard look and wonder...why do we have youth leagues starting (their season) before the Boston Bruins?" he said.

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