The Leadoff: Multi sport athletes

As I was laying on my couch with my feet elevated onto a pedestal of pillows, halfway through my sixth episode of Ozark for the day, I received an invitation to a couple meetings about the beginning of the spring sports season.  

For sportswriters, choosing his or her favorite season to cover can probably be compared to a parent choosing their favorite child. Why? Well, because we both have to act like we love them all unconditionally, but deep down, stirring inside of us like that hankering for ice cream, we all know who the favorite is. Every family has a golden child and if you think yours doesn’t, well, then I have some sad news for you: you aren’t it.

I’ll just tell you, the spring season is my favorite. The lackadaisical nature of spring sports is what draws me in. Sitting in the dugout, chewing on some seeds while watching a baseball game is therapeutic for me. My life, and more importantly, my mind races a mile a minute, but it can't do that at a baseball game.

Swimmers from Atascadero don’t hate swimmers from Paso (for the most part), golfers from SLO don't want to injure a player from AG, they only want to shoot their best scores and have some fun conversation while doing it. It is a nice change of pace from seeing football players try and kill each other every play in the fall and girls elbowing each other in the face in water polo in the winter.

What the spring reminds me of are multi-sport athletes. It’s because it is in the spring that swimming and track season both occur. While these two are certainly prestigious sports all by themselves, they are also tremendous sports for multi-sport athletes to compete in, even if they don’t consider themselves a track runner or swimmer.

Whether you play a sport on land or in the water, speed always kills. That is part of why track and swimming are so fun. The top soccer players, basketball player, water polo player and football players can all work to get faster and polish their technique, and then at the end of the season, can have a race to find out who is the fastest.

Urban Meyer, the head coach of Ohio State’s football program, has been quoted numerous times saying he only recruits multi-sport athletes. Playing multiple sports helps athletes become more well-rounded, they develop different muscles and coordination with different sports that they can bring with them to each new sport.

Playing multiple sports can reduce the risk of injury in younger athletes because they aren’t constantly working the same ligament in their elbow or making the same hard cuts with their knees. Most importantly, playing multiple sports helps with burnout.

People get burnt out on things. It happens. It’s irrefutable. I loved football more than anything and by the end of my senior year of college, I couldn’t wait to be done. But it wasn’t that I was done with football, I loved playing the game. I was done getting up at 5 a.m. for workouts, I was done watching film until 10 at night and still having homework to do. I was done giving up all my weekends and summer vacations for football. I was done putting in the extra 30 minutes after practice to run routes with the quarterback, and I attribute that, in part, to the fact that when I got to high school I largely only played one sport.

If numbers are more of your thing then look at this. According to an article in the USA Today High School Sports edition in March of 2017, 71 percent of D-1 football players were multi-sport athletes in high school. Eighty-seven percent of D-1 female track runners were multi-sport athletes while 91 percent of males were.

I saw many graphics when the National Title game was being played a few weekends ago that highlighted the number of multi-sport athletes on both teams. At least 84 percent of the athletes on Alabama and Clemson were multi-sport athletes in high school.

Playing multiple sports is a privilege that you will only be allowed to do at the high school level. Don’t miss out on it.


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