Specialization concerns

SPECIALIZATION: Some Thoughts to Ponder…

Just a quick note regarding young athletes and specialization.

Parents always ask me all the time about whether it’s a good idea to have their youngster specialize in one sport.

And yes, for a young sports parent, this is always one of the first decisions that they will face with their child. I personally feel it’s not necessary for a 6 or 8 year old or even an older youngster to just play one sport.

And to that end, listeners to my WFAN Sports Edge show continue to send me more and more examples of top athletes who DID NOT specialize. To wit:

Sports Edge listener Tom Smith points out that Utah Jazz All-Star Gordon Hayward was a much more accomplished tennis player in HS in Indiana than in basketball — mainly because he was only 5-9 in HS. He didn’t expect to grow much more because both of his parents are under 6 feet. But then he did grow, and grew to be 6-8 and became a star at Butler University and is now an All-Star in the NBA….again, he didn’t specialize, and in fact, was more proficient in tennis in HS than in hoops.

And Sports Edge listener Gregg Barry from LI adds these fascinating insights: 

Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yaz had the Suffolk County (NY) scoring record in basketball.

Baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio who was Suffolk County Player of the Year in football but not baseball.

Football NFL MVP and WFAN colleague Boomer Esiason was Suffolk County Player of the Year in baseball but not football.

Basketball All Star Wally Szczerbiak was All Suffolk County in baseball.

Football Pro Bowler Steven Boyd was All County in lacrosse.

And then, of course,  there’s Jim Brown from LI who starred in both football and lacrosse in HS and college.

And don’t forget current Cincinnati Reds pitcher Amir Garrett who was drafted and signed out of HS in Vegas. But the Reds allowed Amir to play basketball, which he did at St. John’s University for two years as a 6-5 guard.

In short, there are countless examples of athletes who didn’t feel the need to specialize in just one sport…

Again,  it’s something to consider if you’re a parent.

And by the way, my thanks to the Sports Edge friends who sent these notes along.