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Giving 110%

 

from flickr user TheTruthAbout

from flickr user TheTruthAbout

 

All youth sports now operate on fast-forward. Just about any kid with some ability takes road trips with his or her team by the age of 12, flying on planes and staying in hotels. That used to happen, if at all, only after an athlete was skilled enough to play in college. Now it occurs in just about any sport organized enough to form into a league.”

– from “Allonzo Trier is in the Game”  by Michael S0kolove

Allonzo Trier is a 6th grader (or was when the article profiling him was published in March of this year) who has his own line of clothing, personalized with his signature, motto, and/or initials and basketball number.  College coaches fly him around the country for free.  His school tuition is paid for by a charity founded by an N.B.A. player.  Wish that his life was yours?  Click on the link above and read the New York Times article to see why it may not be a great thing. 

Allonzo is very skilled at basketball, but he has to practice a lot.  A lot meaning for seven hours a day some days.  And imagine having to think about choosing a college in sixth grade.  It is overwhelming even when you are a junior in high school, even without the pressure of coaches recruiting you!

And what effects could so much physical activity have on a teenager’s still-growing body?  Read this article from New York Magazine about a 13 year old pitcher named KB, who plays on an elite traveling league.  The author wonders:

“If it’s hard to imagine how a professional ballplayer can perform under this much pressure, it’s nearly impossible to understand how a 13-year-old can do it.”

Or check out another article from the New York Times, “Arms Control Breakdown”, about what pitching actually does to your arm, and how the Little League isn’t enforcing its rules on how much a pitcher can pitch during a game.  According to the article, one of the players had “pitched in four games and threw 288 pitches — all within league rules. To place this in perspective, last month, over the same time period, the Red Sox star Josh Beckett pitched twice and threw 201 pitches; C. C. Sabathia threw 214 in two games for the Yankees.”

What are your limits when you’re playing a sport you love?  How do you deal with pain and pressure from your teammates or yourself?  Is it possible to find the balance between enjoyment and improvement, especially if you’re trying to win a scholarship?

 

Further reading/watching:

Hoop Dreams: Has been called “the most powerful sports movie ever made” (by a Washington Post movie crtic).  There is also a book version.

Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska by Michael D’Orso: won an Alex Award, which means it was picked as one of the year’s best non-fiction books with appeal for teenagers.  It “follows the Eagles, winners of six regional championships in a row, through the course of an entire 28-game season, from their first day of practice in late November to the Alaska State Championship Tournament in March.” (taken from book jacket description).

Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña: is about a foster kid who feels like basketball is his only way to get to a better life. 
The Playgroundz, a website about streetball, says that “there’s really nothing that bothers us more than when someone who doesn’t know ball, who’s never played ball, tries to talk and write like a player would. …De la Peña played Division I ball at Pacific University, and one of his greatest strengths in telling Sticky’s story is that the game action and the dialogue among the characters feels on point.”

 

One Response

  1. Great post, Tessa about an important subject. All you athletes out there, guard your bodies. You can’t get a new one and even replacing parts is hazardous.

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