The close of winter sports brings with it the beginning of competition for spring teams. Along with that change of disciplines comes a phenomenon known as “crossover season,” in which multiple sports seasons overlap and increase the workloads of media, sports-information personnel, administrators, coaches and superfans alike.One group of people bears have an especially heavy yoke during crossover season: the players. At GC in particular, basketball season has backed up into the traditional late-October end of volleyball; on the other end, baseball and softball ordinarily start in February before Indiana’s state pastime concludes.
While Goshen has had at least two athletes – Megan Strock and Jaime Stack, both sophomores – compete in consecutive basketball and volleyball seasons this year, multiple-sport athletes are not particularly common at the college level. They do appear at the high school level, however, to the point that the Indiana High School Athletic Association modifies its practice rules for athletes who move from one sport to another.
So that’s all fine and dandy. But sports are also a significant source of income for their players, as anyone who follows the Yankees can tell you. (While I could go on about that at some length, we have a limited amount of space here.) In the interests of improving their chances of receiving college athletic scholarship money, a number of athletes and their families have decided to specialize in one sport and maximize their exposure there.
There are a number of consequences of this trend. The first is a growing number of youth with overuse injuries: orthopedic surgeon David Lintner estimates that the resulting elbow surgeries are twice as common in high schoolers than they were a decade ago. I’m sure there are other effects too technical to explain here, but I’m sure that Val Hershberger’s Motor Learning class gets all the details.
In a team sport, though, one player’s decision to play or not can affect many others. Having spent much of my life around small teams and small schools, I can think of several occasions where seasons were made or broken by players who did or did not play.
This looks like a sports column. On its face, it is; but as always, sport imitates life. It’s March, the month of milk and honey for group projects and housing selections and … well, again, limited space. In a word, specializing is fine. But don’t specialize at the expense of doing anything else – your partners will thank you.