Most athletes have a favorite sport, a sport that we love so much that we dedicate a significant portion of our lives to it. Playing a sport opens up many opportunities for scholarships and comes with many benefits. We all know that participating in a sport is a really good thing, but doing only one sport can actually be very damaging and hurtful in the long run.
Now you may ask why people only do one sport. Well the answer is simple. Time. Sports can be a great way to get scholarships and have a head start on life. For many, a sports scholarship might be the only way into college. That means they need to get darn good at the sport, since the more skilled you are, the greater your chances are at getting a scholarship. If you only play one sport, then you have a lot more time to dedicate to that sport. It is easier to get good at playing football if you are not worrying about baseball or wrestling on the side. Multitasking is very difficult, so focusing on one sport is easier than focusing on two or three sports. Many athletes just can’t or don’t feel the need to split their focus. So instead they just play one sport not knowing the risk and the damage it can do.
“I play multiple sports because it keeps me happy and busy. Also, to be in multiple sports you keep working your body and it keeps you in shape all year round. If you’re just in one sport and that sport ends you get out of shape until the next season and if you’re not in shape you can get hurt easily.” said Tori Hendricks (‘21).
Although playing one sport may be easier it is not ideal. Playing one sport can significantly damage your muscles and tendons. One of the worst parts is that many athletes aren’t even aware of the damage they are doing to themselves. Playing only one sport year round can cause an increase of overuse injuries and decrease overall athletic development. The easiest way to explain it is that playing one sport wears down your body, almost like a car. When you first buy it brand new it is in perfect condition and runs super smoothly. Then if you overuse it and constantly drive it then it is going to need more work. Same with our bodies. If we constantly are doing the same action over and over, then it damages that part of the body. The muscles start to get worn, your tendons tear and break, and it hurts a lot. Now depending on how intense you are at practice the damage can vary. Some injuries can be dealt with simply by resting and allowing it to heal itself. Other, more intense injuries, may require surgery which can end up hurting your wallet.
In 2015 a study performed by Rush University Medical Center found that baseball athletes aged 15-19 accounted for 56.8% of all ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction procedures, more famously known as Tommy John surgery. Dr. Stephen Fealy, an Orthopedic Surgery/Sports Medicine Consultant for the Major League Baseball Players Association said that not all of these UCL injuries required surgery though. A lot were able to be dealt with by PRP therapy, rest, and physical therapy. Even though it is treatable, the number of injuries seems to be increasing and for one major reason which seems to be “continued specialization, early specialization, in one sport” as stated by the study. Basically those athletes who dedicated their lives to the sport had a higher chance of getting injured than others. That is because doing those few single movements, like swinging a bat, over and over wears you down and can do serious damage. Playing multiple sports switches things up a bit and actually helps you. It stretches out those muscles and doesn’t do as much damage.
Playing a single sport does have its advantages, but playing multiple sports can help keep your body healthier, safer, and reduces your risk of injury. By exercising your entire body, rather than repeating one action over and over again, you lessen the risk of serious, long term damage.