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The Endangered Multi-Sport Athlete

The endangered multi-sport athlete and today's reality.

Richard Pound

April 21, 2009

The Endangered Multi-Sport Athlete

I am on a crusade to save the multi-sport athlete, and I need your help.

You see, not long ago high school athletes—men and women—wore their varsity club jackets and sweaters around school proudly displaying an array of patches and pins, each representing a season spent on a different sports team and championships won. I don’t see that much any more; it seems like the multi-sport athlete is an endangered species, and only you can make sure the multi-sport athlete does not become extinct. 

Walking through the corridors of a local high school recently, I took note of the prominent display case and how proudly the school exhibited its Sectional championships on brightly colored banners.  The “Triple Crown” was the one that grabbed my eye and drew me closer in. Reserved in a special section of the display, it hung by itself with a profile of each of the three sports teams that won the Sectional championship that year.

Of particular interest to me was that many of the same last names were listed on the teams’ rosters, evidence that many of the same athletes shared these achievements.  A core group of multi-sport athletes joined forces that year, bringing Sectional glory in football, basketball, and baseball.  At the same time, perhaps not realizing the significance of their accomplishments, they were creating memories for a lifetime.  Sadly, that “lifetime” is well on its way, as the magical year of this school’s “triple crown” season was 1992.

Fast forward to November 2008—the age of winter soccer and summer-time hockey. Well-intentioned “elite” travel teams place a heavy premium on year-round training and uni-sport focus. Fast fleeting are the days of my youth where summer vacations were spent in harmless crab apple fights, “kill-ums” tackle football, and afternoon-long baseball games played on a dusty field under a blistering hot sun.  And who didn’t become a better player on the heels of a summer’s worth of schoolyard basketball playing on bent rims with no nets?

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