The other day a 13 year old patient came into the office with medial elbow pain that was present since about April. While taking a history and asking what sports he played, I noticed a rarity in athletes lately. He played 3 sports. After talking for a little while, I made him make me a promise. That promise was that he needed to be a 3-Sport-Varsity Athlete. My reasoning was that such athlete is as rare as they come. There are many talented athletes out there that play a single sport but how often do you see an athlete at the varsity level play more than 2 anymore? The 3-Sport-Varsity Athlete is a dead breed.
When I was in high school I can remember only 2 of my classmates that were 3 sport athletes. A majority of us were 2 sport athletes and some were single-sport athletes (mostly due to cuts, not specialization). With the rise in youth over-use injuries, we know that specialization in a single sport is not in their best interest. Unfortunately, it seems that this generation of athlete is trying to live out their parents’ dreams instead of their own. I know being an athlete and a student is a difficult thing in one sport let alone multiple. But if they can put that much energy into one sport, they can definitely do so playing a few. We need to break the trend of specialization not because we don’t want them to succeed in one sport, but because of injuries that can be avoided by putting different stresses on the body.