According to the National Council on Youth Sports, almost 30 million boys and girls under 18 play some kind of organized sport like Little League or soccer. For many of them, it's a way to make new friends and play a game they enjoy.
But over the last decade, more otherwise well-meaning parents have been pushing their budding stars to excel at almost any cost. Children as young as 3 can sign up for swimming and gymnastics programs. Soccer often starts at 4 and baseball at 5. From there it's become increasingly common for parents to rush the kids into highly competitive situations when they're barely out of diapers.
Parents should take note: A 2001 study by the National Alliance for
Youth Sports found that 70 percent of American kids who sign up for
sports quit by the time they were 13. The reason? They said it wasn't
With softball season just around the corner, I'd like to bring up an area of discussion that received attention over the off season.
Last summer the Division I softball committee recommended a new maximum-contest limit for the regular season. Softball teams are permitted to schedule games on 56 dates throughout the season, and are free to schedule more than one game on each date. Some teams competing in this year���s Women���s College World Series had played more than 60 games before they got to Oklahoma City. The softball committee wants to institute a game limit which would allow schools to play a maximum of 56 games throughout the spring. This is the same number of games Division I baseball teams are permitted to play each season.
However, the Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet voted against this proposal. So while softball is limited to 56 dates, many Division I programs play close to 70 games each spring.
Not that I don't love playing this game, but I think I would have appreciated a 56 maximum game limit when I was a student-athlete. Amidst all of the traveling and missed classes, it seems that ten or so less games would benefit each individual student-athlete (mentally and physically) more than those games would benefit the team and/or season overall.
Do you think college softball teams play too many games?
Nicole Woody was recently featured as a stand out high school athlete as read in Sports Illustrated: She is one of the top female wrestlers in the U.S. and still encounters people who think the mat is no place for a woman.
Reportedly, some schools forfeit rather than send a boy to face her, and one fellow wrestler transferred rather than be on her team. But Woody, a graduating junior and team captain, also hears plenty of encouragement. Several girls from states across the country have reached out to her online telling of how they have been inspired to start wrestling.
It's a choice more girls are making. At U.S. high schools the number of female wrestlers has tripled in the last decade, from 1,629 to 4,975. (There are 50 times as many boy wrestlers.) Woody's coach, Bill Royer, says, "It's not a girl-boy thing. She's a wrestler. She lives and dies and bleeds this sport."
Woody began wrestling at age nine at the suggestion of her mother, Mary, who liked the discipline it taught her son. In August, Woody was the only American of either sex to win a title at the Junior World Championships. Her ultimate goal is the Olympics, which added women's wrestling in 2004. Good luck to her!
Every player and team is forced to throw away dozens of rain soaked baseballs each year. On top of that, if your field has any trees or woods near it, you'll find many waterlogged baseballs each year while searching for foul balls.
Well, I'm here to save the day and teach you how to become a stronger, more powerful hitter using those balls you were throwing away.
Matthew Van Dusen recently reported out of Bergen County,* *New Jersey that township recreation officials have banned aluminum and non-wood baseball bats from the youth baseball league to protect players from high-speed line drives like the one that almost killed a Wayne boy last summer.
This switch comes as the state Legislature mulls a ban on non-wood bats -- including aluminum, titanium and other alloys -- in most organized games involving children under 18.
Andy Wingfield, an assistant baseball coach at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, said he has seen two young players hurt by line drives over the past five or six years. Also, a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that, between 1991 and 2001, eight players were struck and killed by drives from non-wood bats, two from wood bats and seven from bats whose composition was not known.
Several coaches and Little League officials told the legislative safety committee at a hearing in October that the ban is unnecessary since injuries are rare and children will leave the sport if they have to use wooden bats, which have smaller "sweet spots."
What do you think? Should aluminum bats be banned in youth baseball leagues?
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Jim McIsaac)
Alice O'Neil, who last year celebrated her 80th birthday and was selected to her fourth three-year term as Massachusetts District 16 Administrator, was recently highlighted on Littleleague.org. Her story demonstrates patience and enthusiasm for today's generation of Little Leaguers and that feeling young is a state of mind:
Serving as DA since 1993, Mrs. O'Neil has been a Little League volunteer for 40 years. Starting in 1966, she kept the scorebook for her husband, Edmund, who was a long-time coach and manager in the East Lynn (Mass.) Little League before his passing in 1999.
"I started as scorekeeper on account of my son," Mrs. O'Neil said. "Patrick (O'Neil) played Little League through Senior Division for my husband who managed in Little League for 28 years." That first year made such a profound impression on Mrs. O'Neil that keeping the book became just one of her many Little League-related duties. She was East Lynn's player agent for eight years, and later served as the district's director for Junior, Senior and Big League baseball.
Thirty girls signed up for the cheerleading squad this winter at Whitney Point High School in upstate New York. But upon learning they would be waving their pompoms for the girls��� basketball team as well as the boys���, more than half of the aspiring cheerleaders dropped out.
The eight remaining cheerleaders now adjust their routines for whichever team is playing here on the home court to comply with a new ruling from federal education officials interpreting Title IX, the law intended to guarantee gender equality in student sports.
Watching the BCS championship game between Florida and Ohio State on January 8th, it became difficult to avoid the conclusion that the NCAA has abandoned its commitment to its student-athletes in favor of commercial payouts.
How can the NCAA possibly claim that it is in the best interest of its student-athletes, or even college football, to make the best teams sit out four to seven weeks before an important bowl game? Loss of conditioning alone is a danger to the players. Every few years, the wait becomes longer and the final game later.
In the NCAA, where these student-athletes are completely at the mercy of this organization, these young adults seem to have been sacrificed to the dollar. I would like to hear a rational, ethical explanation as to why Division I-A student-athletes are subjected to the present conditions. The obvious answer involves 12-digit dollar figures, and cities and corporations that fear any change will reduce their financial gains.
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by <span id="ctlInfo_ImageDetails">Andy Lyons)
Though reports differ, early word Monday evening was that while celebrating the dazzling touchdown score, the Buckeyes' most explosive offensive weapon tweaked his ankle. He spent the rest of the game on the sidelines, hobbling on a crutch.
Injuring yourself celebrating a touchdown is a pretty embarrassing sports injury. But he wouldn't be the first athlete to injure himself in such a fashion. There's a long tradition of celebration-related injuries in the world of sports.
Here are five other notable celebration-related sports injuries, as highlighted by Peter Schrager of Fox Sports that serve as a reminder to athletes not to celebrate too hard:
1. Bill Gramatica: Following a 42-yard field goal kicked into stiff winds in 2001, Bill Gramatica jumped for joy in celebration. As his teammates joined him, Gramatica abruptly fell to the ground, clutching the back of his right leg. Gramatica hyperextended his right knee, ultimately missing the rest of the 2001 season as a result
2. Gus Frerotte: In a tight NFC East Sunday night battle vs. the Giants televised nationally in 1997, Frerotte celebrated a Redskins score in arguably the worst way possible - by head-butting a padded cement wall behind the Washington end zone.
Frerotte, a Pro Bowl quarterback that year, spiked the ball after a touchdown run, and ran toward a pack of fans in the crowd. Caught up in the moment, he slammed his head against the padded wall. Seconds later, he recoiled in pain. Frerotte sprained his neck, missed the rest of the game, and went to the hospital for the entire second half.
3. Jake Peavy: Following the Padres National League West-clinching victory in October, San Diego players mobbed each other on the mound. Peavy broke his ribs in the process. The Cy Young candidate tried toughing it out for Game 1 of the Padres' NLDS matchup vs. the Cardinals. He had his worst outing of the year, allowing eight runs in just 4 1/3 innings. The Padres lost the game 8-5, and were swept 3-0 a few days later.
4. Dustin Mohr: During an early April game with the Padres in 2005, Colorado Rockies' outfielder Dustin Mohr jumped out of the dugout to celebrate a late-inning home run hit by a teammate. He hobbled back to the bench in pain. Sure enough, he strained his left calf popping out of his seat. He ended up on the 15-day disabled list later that week.
5. Terry Harper: While playing for the Atlanta Braves in the early 1980s, Terry Harper made a name for himself as a reliable pinch hitter off the bench. Yet, Harper is best remembered for his work outside of the batter's box. Standing in the on-deck circle, Harper once dislocated his shoulder wildly waving in a runner from third base.
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Jamie Squire)
The 2008 Summer Olympics will be held in Beijing, China from August 8, 2008 through August 24, 2008, with the opening ceremony to take place at 08:08pm and 08 seconds. (The number 8 is associated with prosperity in Chinese culture.) From badminton to basketball, the games kick off when the Olympic Torch Relay that begins several months before opening ceremonies makes it's way into the stadium to ignite the flame.
According to the BBC, before the flame gets to Beijing, it will actually go to the summit of Mount Everst. Twice. There will reportedly be a televised rehearsal in 2007 before the actual torch relay in 2008. The full schedule of the torch relay, which must be approved by the International Olympic Committee, has not yet been released.
"The torch will be designed in order to burn at such a high altitude," said Beijing Olympics official Liu Jingmin.
Dr. Andrew Jacobs has been a sport psychologist for 25 years and has worked with all levels of competitive athletes from youth sports to the professional and Olympic level. He recently led a teleseminar with Fred Engh about "How to avoid and overcome the issues that can ruin your child's youth sports experience." Check out Dr. Jacob's Web site, www.winnersunlimited.com to learn more about his teleseminars and about his relaxation/visualization audio programs that will help you mentally prepare for athletic competition.
We have all had the dream. Standing at the free throw line with a chance to win the game, having to get one more out in the bottom of the ninth for the victory or needing one more point to win and walk away as the champion.
The Kansas City Chiefs failed to advance in the 1996 playoffs after place-kicker, Lin Elliot, missed his third of three field goals in a home loss to the Colts. After the game, Elliot was interviewed at and when asked what he was thinking before the last kick, stated, "I was trying not to be negative.��� Well, when you are trying not to be negative, you are doing what you are trying not to do���.and that is being negative.
Grayson would be 30 years old now. Do you think of him often? Oh yeah. How could you not? It's like having a relationship with somebody and they move on, and you always wonder what happened to them. Did he have a family? If I'm swimming off Palos Verdes and I see the migration of the gray whales, I always wonder if he's out there with them.
Everybody got it wrong except the Florida Gators. The Gators dominated the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes and ran away with college football's national championship, 41-14 on Monday night.
The "playoff system vs. the BCS" debate is intensifying. I've been following it on talk radio shows, message boards, blogs, and more articles than I can count. A growing number of fans are pleading for a college football playoff. Jim Delany is in the way of that. This is why:
The California Institute of Technology, which has a student body of some 850, is renowned for its programs in science and math. Albert Einstein lectured at Caltech, Linus Pauling was a professor and 31 Nobel Prize winners either have taught or studied on the small campus in suburban Los Angeles. The school has extremely high admission standards and puts arduous academic demands on the students. So it is understandable that while the school attracts some of the nation's best and brightest, it doesn't necessarily draw the most athletically gifted.
One streak left on Caltech's list is a 245-game conference losing streak. The Beavers haven't won a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game in 21 years. They open their conference schedule at Occidental College on Jan. 10 looking to put an end to that streak as well. Good luck to them in doing so!
1) In 1996, a girls-only division was made available for participants in the GatoradePunt, Pass & Kick competition. About 125,000 of the 500,000 participants that year were girls. By 2000, the number of girls participating in the contest had risen to more than 1 million. The NFL Gatorade Punt, Pass and Kick program creates lively and engaging competition for boys and girls ages 8 -15 to compete separately against their peers in punting, passing and place kicking skills.
2) More than 30 million women watch football on televisions on an average weekend.
3) Game-day attendance is 40 percent female, with more than 375,000 women attending games on an average weekend.
4) Over 100,000 girls participate in local flag football leagues sponsored by the NFL.
Perhaps the phrase "football widow" is on the way out as more and more females are becoming interested and knowledgable in the sport of football.
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Jonathan Daniel)
I just read an article by CNN's Carl Azuz that can help answer those questions in which he spoke with baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr., a record-holder for most consecutive games played, a father, and the author of the book, "Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way."
I came across a really cool site for adding a slideshow of images. I know how much you like to add images (especially slideshows) so I thought I would pass it along. It's very easy to use, you can add music, captions, change colors, etc. It took me about 10 minutes to create one. It gave me the necessary code which I copied and pasted into my Welcome folder for display on my site.
It's January and the season is right around the corner. Some leagues are already holding sign ups. It's time to knock the rust off and get ready for the coming baseball season.
So what should the ballplayer be doing this time of year?
1. You should perform some general conditioning work. This can be done in the form of a structured workout or can be playing other sports such as basketball or flag football.
2. Get Your Arm In Shape. Start throwing now. It only has to be a few throws a day, but get started asap. The best way to get your arm in shape is doing so over time, not just before the season starts.
3. Use The Tee. All great swings start with proper tee work. For those in cold weather states a tee station can be constructed in the garage or basement. Work on the tee now will ensure you enter the season with perfect swing mechanics.
4. Have fun. Even in the off-season baseball should be fun. Make practice enjoyable, rewarding and memorable by being positive, building self-confidence and improving skill set.
(Jon Doyle is a former NCAA All-American baseball player who now works as a strength and conditioning specialist. For more tips check out.com)
Perhaps it's time to revisit this topic in light of one of the most exciting bowl games I've ever seen.
In overtime, Boise State decided to go for a two point conversion, and beat the Oklahoma Sooners 43-42. The Boise State Broncos did for college football what the Utah Utes did a couple years ago. They reminded the BCS that the little guy deserves a chance at the big boys. I understand the strength of schedule argument, but shouldn't they at least get a shot at the National Title?...Have a chance to earn the right to play in the national title game? If they really don���t deserve a shot at the national title (because they play in a smaller conference than Ohio State or Florida), they would probably get eliminated in the first round by the playoff system anyway.
Historically, sports have shown us that the best team the entire season through doesn���t always have what it takes to win when it counts. It just doesn���t seem to be a fair assessment, especially when people use the argument that a playoff system will never be implemented because of all the revenue that would be lost on bowl games. The thought of compromising crowning an NCAA football champion that is truly the best because of moneythat shifting the game around for the sake of entertainment instead of in an effort to uphold the integrity of the game and collegiate sports is even an optionmakes me sick. Especially from a former student-athlete���s perspective.
What about a four team playoff that includes teams like Boise State if they finish undefeated? One thing is for sure, Boise State made a lot of people think twice. Congrats to them on their great season.
What do you think?
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Jeff Gross)
Welcome to 2007! With the coming of the New Year, athletes commonly think about making nutrition resolutions to go along with their training . Good thing, given only three to four percent of Americans follow all of the Dietary Guidelines established by the government. Americans need food help, but the question arises: How can we best teach the nutrition message?
This topic was discussed at a conference hosted by the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (Boston, Sept 19-21, 2006) and attended by about 250 dietitians, nutrition researchers and professionals who work in the food industry. The following are a few key messages:* Omega-3 fats (fish oils) are essential for brain function and fight inflammation, such as occurs with heart disease. Eating (fatty) fish once or twice a week is a wise idea.
<span face="Times New Roman">Making a winning diet
The government's Dietary Guidelines tell us what should eat, but the trick is teaching people (including athletes) HOW to do so. Three eating practices that implement the messages of the Dietary Guidelines and lead to better nutrition (and future health) are: Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
(Photo provided by Bongarts, taken by Martin Rose)
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