I am a man, in the middle of life. What that means to me, you and us is what I hope to frame in my attempts at this.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book review

From time to time, I will review a book I have read and enjoyed or struggled with or learned from or grew from or just plain found entertaining. Most of the literature I read is Christian in nature, but I do read outside of that as well. Which is where my first book comes from.

Through a recommendation from a co-worker, I read the book Until it Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids written by Mark Hyman

From the product description: Near the end of a long season, fourteen-year-old baseball pitcher Ben Hyman approached his father with disappointing, if not surprising, news: his pitching shoulder was tired. With each throw to home plate, he felt a twinge in his still maturing arm. Any doctor would have advised the young boy to take off the rest of the season. Author Mark Hyman sent his son out to pitch the next game. After all, it was play-off time. Stories like these are not uncommon. Over the last seventy-five years, adults have staged a hostile takeover of kids’ sports. In 2003 alone, more than 3.5 million children under age fifteen required medical treatment for sports injuries, nearly half of which were the result of simple overuse. The quest to turn children into tomorrow’s superstar athletes has often led adults to push them beyond physical and emotional limits.

Hyman takes a good, hard look at the American obsession in youth sports and how it has changed the way sports are played and kids are treated physically, mentally and emotionally. I see it everyday at work, I see the battles that these young bodies go through and the wear and tear it brings upon them.

Hyman shows us the root of all these problems started when we took the kids out of their natural environment-stick, ball and open field and forced them into sport-specific training, competition and exhibition. The need to always be better, always be the best athlete and one-up the other kids has become so ingrained it is hard to imagine it any other way. Hyman shows us the true root of these issues: Adults. Not just parents; but parents and coaches and referees and program directors and specialty experts and every adult who tries to redeem their own youth through these children.

Also, he takes an approach to not just show other people's problems, but when he shows his own personal struggle with his son and his injuries it really takes the story to a more individual level. He also concluded the book with some areas in the country where things are being done right, where programs and ideas that bring the sport back to the kid is happening.

When we see the "athletes of tomorrow" in little league, soccer, basketball-they rarely make it to the next level or to the professional level. This book looks at those stories individually and corporately and how many lives it affects, where children stay in sports more out of obligation and less out of desire or the love of the game.

Overall, the ideas and thoughts here need to be put more in the forefront of discussion especially for any parents that have young athletes or adults that work with them or coach them. Overuse is a real problem, and this book gets the topic out there. Every parent should read this book.

What do you think about youth sports?

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