April 26, 2007
Parents Are Putting Their Kids At Risk
Koach Karl - Here is "Revolution In The Bleachers" Part 2…
Dr. Timothy Kremchek, the Cincinnati Reds' medical director and chief orthopedic surgeon, and team orthopedic surgeon for professional soccer's Cincinnati Kings, did 10 Tommy John surgeries in 10 days on baseball pitchers ages 9 to 19 during the summer of 2004, and also took the knife to a high school gymnast with a torn triceps and chipped elbow bone and a young volleyball player with a bad shoulder. "I love sports, and I love to see kids enjoying their sport," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "But I'm telling you, we need to re-evaluate where we are as a society on this.
"Stephen Boyer started playing baseball when he was 8 and played in two leagues at the same time, sometimes having a game every day, occasionally experiencing pain and playing through it. By the time he was a high school sophomore, the Utah teen needed Tommy John surgery for his second overuse injury. His first was an injury to the growth plate in his arm."There are pitchers all over Salt Lake doing the same thing he did and they're 8, 9 and 11 years old," Stephen's mother, Jan, told the Salt Lake Tribune, reflecting on whether she should have made sure he had some timeoff. "I wonder if it would have made much of a difference. I don't know how many tournaments I would have kept him from playing in, but I probably would have made him take three months off each year instead of letting him play year-round."
Bob Tewksbury, a former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, who also pitched for the Minnesota Twins, is now a sports psychologist for the Boston Red Sox. He says that overuse injuries have become so rampant that major league scouts are no longer turning to the South and West — regions where athletes have more opportunity to play and train because of the mild weather — to find pitchers. They're realizing that guys who have been taxing their arms year-round, for years on end, may have only so many throws left before they'll end up on the disabled list. Scouts are now turning to the East for talent, figuring the players' arms there might last longer.
"There's an incredible increase in [the Tommy John] injury, and that injury is strictly an overuse injury at a young age," Tewksbury told me."So these guys are playing more and more baseball at a younger age and they're getting hurt. So what the special teams are looking at is: How much wear and tear has this guy got? Where does this guy go to school? I know they look at how many college innings pitched and say, 'You know, this guy pitched 200 innings in college and he's gonna break down.' And some teams will go back and ask, 'What did he do as a youth? Where did he play, how much did he play? Did he play on a specialized team? And does he have a greater chance of being hurt?' So they're shying away from those types of players, for the most part.
"So let's get this straight: Parents are putting their kids at risk having them play year-round so they can one day play professionally, and the pros are starting to be wary of players who may have worn out their arms trying to get to the majors.
"The problem comes in, especially with younger players, with their participation in the elite travel-ball programs not affiliated with Little League, where they have no oversight in how much a pitcher can be used,"Little League International spokesman Lance Van Auken told People magazine in June 2005. "The average kid we operated on had only the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas off," Andrews said in the same article.