The Consequences of Expertise

The Consequences of Expertise

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I don’t often feel the need to say I told you so, but... I did. At least when it comes to sports. Many times over many years. In case you didn’t want to hear it from me, maybe you will listen to the wise Jane Brody.

Brody's take home message that’s not news but always worth repeating: the attempt to create a young athletic superstar by giving in to the demands of single-sport play will almost certainly backfire. And at the very least, it doesn’t translate into success. This isn’t easy advice to follow, because the whole world seems to tell parents that their child could become a local superstar or even a prodigy at fill-in-the-blank sport if she just commits herself.

We all need to keep our eye on the real prize, which is a lifetime of pain-free activity. Even if you desperately want your kid to be the very best player in the league today, weigh that against wanting her to be fit, healthy, and agile when she is your age. We often criticize our kids for their inability to think through the consequences of their behaviors. This one’s on us: we are signing them up, getting them to practices and games, buying the uniforms, schlepping to the tournaments. It’s high time we take responsibility for creating their overuse injuries, their lack of continued passion for a sport they play 11 or 12 months a year every year, and their future bad hips, backs, and shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, sports are great. But before entering high school, any given kid should be playing lots of different ones.