I was talking to a friend of mine this week about multi-sport athletes and I started thinking about my own coaching career and what I've witnessed as a Coach. The Multi-Sport High School athlete is dying. Let me rephrase that. The football/basketball athlete's are becoming very rare. Football/Track and Football/Baseball athlete's are still around but what is happening to the Football/Basketball player? I have a few thoughts on it.
#1. August isn't Special Anymore
Football just isn't that special anymore. Now before any football Coaches want to publicly stone me let me finish. Football is the King sport, especially in the South. I love Friday nights and all day Saturdays of College Football. I'd rather sit on my couch all day on Saturday than attend a game because I just like to watch it all.
But Football is losing it's prestige and here's why: It never stops anymore. Games August through early December, take off for Christmas and Off-Season lifting begins. Then Spring Ball. Then 7 on 7.
August use to mean two-a-days and getting ready. Football Athletes literally are getting close to the dreaded AAU system that High School and College Football Coaches are trying to get keep out of their game.
#2. Forced to Choose
Summer use to be for baseball and summer vacation trips. Now Athletes are going from summer basketball team camp to 7 on 7 football to lifting weights 4 days a week. Factor in that cute Blonde that wants you to go to the lake and something is going to lose. Summer overload is real.
A friend of mine told a story of his nephew having to find a gym on vacation and get his workout card signed by the manager each day so he would get credit for his football workout. I know of kids that go to team camp with their high school team only to leave a day early to go play in a weekend tournament with their summer team.
#3 Selfish People
Let's face it. There are some selfish people involved in sports. The problem with youth sports isn't the youth...or the sport. Basketball Coaches afraid that their kids will get hurt. Football Coaches saying that the kid needs to lift weights.
#1 YOU CAN GET HURT STEPPING OFF A CURB
#2 IF YOU NEED 8 MONTHS IN THE WEIGHT ROOM TO PLAY 10 GAMES YOU'VE GOT BIGGER PROBLEMS
Would I be lying if I said I didn't mind if my entire team was in the gym? Who wouldn't like that but here is what I find: BURNOUT is real. Coaches get tired of Players. Players get tired of Coaches. Both get tired of Practice.
If an athlete wants to play another sport, encourage it.
Here are the only times I discouraged an athlete playing another sport;
and it was actually my sport.
You know they aren't going to get in your rotation
You know that they can help another sport more.
If you're on the High School level, chances are you don't have to worry too much about your win loss record being what effects your job. (If you do, ask your admin to take you out of the classroom and provide you with the same players as your opponents.) High School is about an experience. Let kids experience as much as they can.
I close with this: One of the best kids I every coached was at a 4A school in Arkansas. He was All-State in Football, Baseball, and should have been in Basketball except this Coach put his undeserving player higher in the voting - YES I'M STILL BITTER
He was going to be my best player regardless if he was full time basketball or not.
If a kid wants to play more than one sport, encourage it. Pretty Simple.