Jeff King

I played football, basketball, and baseball as a high school athlete in 1982-1984. I was extremely busy during the school year.

I was all about playing every sport I could. I did not think about specializing; I loved them all and excelled in all three. My coaches, parents, teachers, and friends never tried to convince me to specialize in one sport.

This has changed in today’s athletic world. Today, there is a lot of talk about athletes specializing in the one sport in which they excel.

I respectfully disagree with this thinking. I believe an athlete should play every sport he loves to play. I think this helps the athlete in many different ways.

Most sports require different skillsets to play. Playing different sports can only help an athlete get better at each one and gives the athlete a better chance to play a sport of his choice in college.

Much of the specialization talk comes from selfish high school and summer league coaches, out-of-touch parents, and thoughtless athletes.

Several high school coaches do not want to share athletes. That is a shame, in my opinion. A high school coach should want the entire sports program to succeed, not just one specific team.

Summer coaches, such as AAU, Select Baseball, or Football passing league coaches, often pressure athletes to give up other sports to specialize in the sport they are coaching. Parents often fall into the traps of these coaches and make unwise choices in guiding their sons or daughters.

I think this choice is for the athlete to make on their own. An athlete’s love for the game of each sport should tell him or her what sports to play.

Athletes only play high school sports one time in their life; they cannot go back and redo it if they specialize and make the wrong choice.

Many athletes I coached have told me they wished they had not given up a certain sport in high school. They truly regret that decision.

I have a very strong opinion on this subject and I am sure you do too. The ultimate decision falls on the athlete to make.

I think as parents, coaches, and friends, we should allow the athlete to make his or her own decision. We should then support the athlete to the fullest after the decision is made, even if we might not agree with it.

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