The values of participating in high school activity programs are well-documented. So if participation in one sport or activity is a positive step, what about involvement in multiple sports or activities? For instance, does the student who participates in volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and track in the spring accrue more benefits than a single sport athlete? Yes! However, somewhere along the way specialization in a single sport has crept into high school sports at Brebeuf and across the country. While some of our teams are thriving, others are struggling to fill rosters. We need to do a better job of encouraging, allowing and facilitating our student athletes to play multiple sports.
This could take many forms, but examples that come to mind are allowing kids to play on a club team in another sport during a given sport season, allowing a kid to take time off between seasons to rest and recuperate without penalty for missing open gyms and practice, and continuing to sell the notion that education-based athletics and activities accrue more benefit to a student athlete’s overall development than the non-school based alternative.
A colleague athletic director noted that when a student athlete specializes in one sport, he or she loses “the socialization with a slightly different peer group, a different coaching model and seeing things in a different context than if the individual played a variety of sports each year.” Brebeuf Jesuit wants to encourage and educate players and their parents about the benefits of multiple-sport participation. Variety is the spice of life! Going forward we hope to have all coaches on board; promoting multi-sport participation for the betterment of the entire athletic department and to add value to the student athlete experience at our school.
If you have experienced coaching behavior contrary to our goal of facilitating participation in multiple sports, please let us know. There are a number of our kids (some of our very best athletes) walking the halls of Brebeuf, not joining teams because of sport specialization. We need to unify around the vision of multiple sport participation, embrace it as athletes and coaches, and immediately realize individual and collective benefits.
Some content derived from “Playing Multiple Sports Offers Many Benefits.” High School Today, November 12, 2012. Robert Gardner, NFHS Executive Director.