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Have Youth Sports Become Too Intense?

Amherst Patriots

There’s a lot of concern these days that an ethic of winning at all costs, promoted by over-zealous parents or coaches, is ruining youth athletics. And kids are paying the price, from sports injuries at ever-younger ages, to constant practice that cuts into family time. But now, some adults are crying “foul” and calling for change.

According to Jay Atkinson’s article in the Boston Globe, the problem with youth sports is “single-sport specialization, the privatization of youth leagues, and the ranking and cutting of young children.” Some stats from that article:

  • 45 million kids participate in organized sports
  • by age 15, 80% of those kids quit
  • only 1% of high school athletes will receive a Division 1 scholarship
  • young athletes who concentrated on a single sport were 70-93% more likely to be injured than those who played multiple sports


  • Heather Barber - associate professor of sports psychology at the University of New Hampshire. She has worked as a sport psychology consultant for girls soccer within the Olympic Development Program and consults regularly with individuals and teams on the mental aspects of sport.
  • Pat Corbin – executive director of the New Hampshire Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association.
  • Luis Fernando Llosa   investigative reporter for Sports Illustrated and co-author of Beyond Winning: Smart Parenting in a Toxic Sports Environment. He is also co-founder of Whole Child Sports, an organization that offers resources to help raise young athletes.

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