Monday, December 29, 2008

Two Sport Athletes

Holly McGarvie is the No. 4 Princeton athlete on the countdown. She would have been high on the list even if she played only field hockey or women's lacrosse, let alone both.

The field hockey/lacrosse double used to be more common than uncommon 20 years ago or so. When TigerBlog used to be a mild-mannered reporter, there were many trips to Gulick Field to cover Princeton field hockey, and the roster then was basically the same as the women's lacrosse roster the following spring.

The advance of women's athletics and especially opportunities for girls to start in sports has led to much greater numbers in participation, which has made filling rosters easier. Also, the demands of playing a college sport now make it even harder to play two sports.

TigerBlog, though, believes that the main reason that fewer college athletes play multiple sports is that fewer kids do so. The pressure on kids to specialize in one sport is greater and greater and increasingly younger ages. If you want to be on the spring baseball travel team, then you have to play fall ball, which means you can't play football. Basketball tryouts are often in September for seasons that run throught the spring and see kids play twice as many games as college teams.

There are all kinds of problems with this in youth sports, not the least of which is that so many kids simply give up playing before they ever get to high school. Those who do remain are less likely to be well-rounded athletes and much more likely to be programmed into one sport (and likely one position) for years before they reach high school.

That makes an athlete like McGarvie even more remarkable.

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