Should the rules for kids sports be changed?


Cordelia Carter, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Yale,was sitting in her office when a patient came sprinting in. His shoulder injury caused him to be frustrated as his injury started just weeks after he returned from a hiatus due to a previous surgery on his elbow. Carter wondered if luck had anything to do with it. She asked if any others had sustained any injuries. He said sure. Every one of his team’s pitchers had undergone surgery because of an injury, at one time or another.

Over the last twenty-five years, there has been a shift in how young kids are coached in youth sports programs. They used to play multiple sports, and take breaks between each and every one of them. Now, most kids are only playing one sport, and they start to play at very young levels. For example, Little League Baseball has started training programs for kids 5 years old. Playing one sport, on many teams throughout the year is common. As a result pediatric surgeons like Carter have seen an increase in youth injuries. In New York State alone, the rate of ACL reconstruction performed on children ages 3- 20 doubled between 1990 to 2009. Researchers have also confirmed this connection. A recent study showed that tennis players that don’t play another sport had a 50% higher chance of sustaining an injury than those who played other sports. Additionally, young baseball pitchers who pitch for more than 100 innings are 3.5 times more likely to receive an injury than those who don’t pitch as often.

There is actually evidence that kids who wait until their early teens to start focusing on a specific sport are actually more successful. Examples include athletes such as Roger Federer, Alex Morgan, and Tim Duncan, who chose other sports before focusing on tennis, soccer and basketball, respectively. There are examples that contradict this, including Tiger Woods and Serena Williams because they focused on golf and tennis respectively, and are still pretty amazing. Carter says that rules must be revised to protect children from injuries, and to make sure they keep the skills they gained in a safe way. Kraemer student Ryan A. says that “We have to make sure to protect the kids from danger,” after asking if they should change the rules a little. Although the answer may be pretty clear, what is your opinion on this?