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Dr. James Andrews: Let them play

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by HanSenSE, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member


    Says, among other things, kids shouldn't be forced to specialize early and shouldn't be allowed to throw curveballs until teen years.
  2. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    The curve ball thing has been long known. I coached Little League more than 20 years ago, and the pitchers weren't allowed to throw curve balls then because of potential injury.
  3. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    From the story...

    PD: The most complex surgery you've ever done?

    J.A.: Marcus Lattimore, running back from South Carolina -- his leg. Drew Brees' shoulder. I'll say this about Drew: It's amazing that he's been able to come back and throw a football, let alone play at the level he does.

    I think it's interesting that he is telling people to stop wearing out areas of the body by having them play the same sport all year long.
  4. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    So much of the fun of being a kid for me was changing sports with the seasons. There was no such thing as "spring football" or "summer basketball" for my friends and me -- if it was summer, that was baseball season. We had to rake leaves before we could play football, and sometimes, we had to shovel snow off the church parking lot to reveal the basketball court.

    I will never be convinced that the hyper-organization of youth sports is a good thing for anybody involved. I confess I never really thought of the possible physical downsides of it, but what Dr. Andrews is saying makes perfect sense.
  5. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    I wonder what happens after he retires -- assuming he's ever really able to. He's effectively synonymous with serious surgeries any more; there's no worse thing to hear than "so-and-so is going to see Dr. James Andrews." I just wonder if he's got someone trained up to sort of take over that mantle.
  6. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I saw the impact of what throwing a curve can do to a young kid firsthand. When I played little league, at a level where the kids were 10-12, the best pitcher in the league was taught to throw a curve by his dad, who had played in the minors. Nobody could touch this kid's curve, and he threw it almost every pitch. We all begged to be taught to throw it because this guy's team just demolished everybody. Fortunately, they didn't... By the time the kid was a freshman in high school, he'd had three surgeries and couldn't play baseball anymore.
  7. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Parents remained wooed by the distant promise of college scholarships. If college athletes are eventually paid in some way, shape or form, this will only get worse.

    Andrews is right that constant use will wear on the body parts. But the parents are told "if your kid wants to play in college, or even in high school, they have specialize now." And when coaches show very little discipline to run a program in any other way than for personal glorification -- that is, winning instead of teaching -- what other conclusion should parents deduce? It takes a mature, patient, thoughtful parent not to buy into that -- a parent willing to develop their kids athletic talents in a different way -- and most parents don't have the time, or the thoughts, to do that.
  8. SixToe

    SixToe Well-Known Member

    Definitely this.

    Baseball in summer, football in autumn, basketball in winter, and whatever else went on. Now, for example, baseball is year-round with travel teams, 'training' during winter, camps, summer ball, school ball, more travel and camps. It never ends.
  9. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    Speaking of Andrews, it's not just American athletes that he treats. Many times you hear of European sports stars coming over for treatment. I always laugh about that because for all the blubbering about European medicine and national healthcare, blah, blah, blah, when someone of means needs it done right, they fly to Alabama and pay for it.

    From what I understand, Andrews does multiple surgeries each day just like an assembly line and doesn't "big time" his clients. A random high school kid, you, or I could very easily be right in line with a superstar.

    I don't advocate complete specialization, but I have for years said it needs to be kept in check. I come at it from a soccer background. The reason we are so far behind the big boys is because their players didn't grow up hopping from sport to sport. They played soccer year round.
  10. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    No - the worse thing is hearing someone is going to someone "just as good as Andrews - but at half the price."
  11. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I certanly don't love its societal impacts, but I certainly think an argument could be made that American kids have to play year-round in order to compete globally. Dominican kids aren't dabbling in football in the fall and wrestling in the winter. And there is a reason that warm-weather states are the top suppliers of baseball talent in the United States. And that cold-weather states are the top suppliers of hockey talent.

    Again: Trust me, I don't love it. But I understand.
  12. Hokie_pokie

    Hokie_pokie Well-Known Member

    I can't tell you how many times over the last 5-6 years that other parents have told me I'm crazy for not forcing my son to "specialize" in baseball.

    He's always been one of the biggest, strongest kids on his teams. He turns 16 at the end of the month and he's already a legit 6-3, 225, with a man's neck and chest, even though he doesn't work out consistently. I look at him sometimes and think my pool guy must've been one big motherfucker.

    But it's always been kind of interesting to me, as a longtime sportswriter, how the combination of "pack mentality" and "keeping up with the Joneses" phenomenon has turned my family into total outsiders in youth sports.

    When he was 12, I almost got heckled out of one of his All-Star games because I refused to let him throw anything but his fastball and straight change. One of the coaches got all heated and said I was being ridiculously overprotective. I told him it was my child, not his, and if he didn't like it, he could find somebody else to pitch. Some of the other parents were like, "Well, look at that guy, doesn't he think he's so much better and smarter than the rest of us." It was sad.

    When my son made his JV baseball team last year as a freshman, he was the only kid on the roster who hadn't played even one inning of travel ball. As a consequence, he's more raw than the most advanced kids skill-wise, but he's healthy and loves playing the game a lot more than most of the kids who have been driven like pack mules since they were 7. I'll take that exchange any time.

    This past winter, the guy who runs the summer showcase program my son plays for called me up and said he hadn't received payment for my son's "winter program" registration. I said that was because he was taking the winter off to play basketball; I had locked up his gloves in a closet and he couldn't have gotten to them if he had wanted to (which he didn't).

    It's a big-time money-making operation, and the guy says to me that if my son doesn't participate in the winter program, he's automatically off the team and won't have a chance to play with them over the summer. I said OK, we'll find him another team and that was that. The guy is still so pissed at me, he won't even say hello when he run into each other in the grocery store. I just shake my head.

    I don't pretend to have all the answers. I am simply the parent of a big, strong, reasonably talented left-handed pitching prospect who is trying to avoid blowing out my son's arm before he graduates from high school.

    Maybe I'm wasting my son's God-given talent by not acting like a cross between Earl Woods and Marv Marinovich. Maybe with a little bit more heavy-handed parenting, he'd become the next Justin Verlander.

    But I really don't think so.
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