Friday, June 04, 2010

"We see kids hurt before they become athletes"

Suddenly - and encouragingly - overuse sports injuries are getting a lot of attention this month in some prominent publications.

James Andrews gets much of the credit. Two articles this week focus on the surgeon's new initiative Stop Sports Injuries. Andrews sees a startling number of kids with overuse injuries in his clinic in Birmingham. This year, as president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, he nudged the surgeons' organization into backing STOP.

The STOP program launched in April - with Andrews doing a round of interviews and the unveiling of an impressive Web site. More stuff is coming, including - if Andrews can find the millions in funding that he seeks - a National Youth Sports Day when sports docs would fan out to youth leagues around the country preaching about the dangers of starting too soon and doing too much.

Already, Andrews has lined up an A-list of STOP spokespeople, friends and ex-patients, including Charles Barkley, Jack Nicklaus, Terry Bradshaw, Bo Jackson, and John Smoltz, among them.

The Boston Globe ran this article Thursday.

I wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated in the current issue (June 7). In it, Andrews says: "I don't think epidemic is too strong a word. We're seeing kids hurt before they even have a chance to become athletes."

Education is a helpful thing, no doubt. What Andrews is doing - and what he has talked his star patients into assisting with - is fabulous. The key will be to persuade those of us with big ambitions for our kids that we're not helping them reach their potential as athletes. If anything, the opposite is true. Tough being a hot-shot travel team player with a cast on your leg or arm in a sling

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