Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and NHL commissioners agree that the best athletes are kids who play multiple sports.
Speaking at the 2017 Project Play Summit, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred highlighted the potential of pro sports leagues, who ordinarily compete with each other, to collaborate in building healthy kids and communities.
Manfred specifically pointed to the shared interest in promoting multisport play among youth. He said he had spoken with the NBA, NFL and NHL commissioners and they all agreed that the best athlete is a kid who played multiple sports.
“Multiple sports give body parts rest, which is a really important issue in today’s youth participation market,” Manfred said.
The specialization of youth sports has been felt heavily in baseball, with kids often playing on multiple teams for most of the year – and at the exclusion of other sports. Two years ago, MLB had a rash of younger pitchers who needed Tommy John surgery to correct elbow injuries, which typically occur due to overuse going back to their youth.
The Aspen Institute's Project Play develops, shares and applies knowledge that helps stakeholders build healthy communities through sports. Launched in 2013 by the Sports & Society Program, the initiative has created a national movement around growing youth access to quality sport activity, through its reports, convening of leaders, and framework of eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children.