From the costs and benefits of specialized training and programs, to the risk of injuries and changes in high school sports, here is what players, coaches, parents and specialists are saying about the culture of youth sports:
“It’s a parent’s money on the table a lot of the time. It’s definitely a piece of the puzzle we need to understand. We need to look at why parents are making these decisions in the first place. They don’t want to be seen in the community as limiting their kid.” – Karl Erickson, faculty member at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University.
“If you want your kid to get involved in sports and you’re going to pay whatever it takes, and you’re going to pay that all the way through high school, if you keep track of all that money — and I mean everything … you’re going to be astonished at how high it is.” – Yorktown Athletic Director Fio Nardone.
PAY TO PLAY: The high cost of youth sports
THE PATH: Experts explain the path to high school varsity squads
OUR REPORT: How the reporters got the story
COSTS: Money and time add up in youth sports
PAY TO PLAY: The findings
JOE GIRARDI: Yankees’ manager not a fan of specialization by young athletes
EXPENSES: Cost of youth sports creates bigger divide
PLAYING THROUGH PAIN: Does youth sports specialization lead to more injuries?
“You’re screwing him up. I’ve seen really good. This isn’t it. That doesn’t mean he won’t be, but you’re not helping him. You’re over here blowing smoke up his rear end. You’re in the way.“– Golf instructor Butch Harmon relating his remarks to the father of a young player
“People who have money are more likely to spend it on what is really a luxury item.”– Anthony Yacco, who runs 4D Sports Performance Center in Mahopac
“You have a tremendous amount of monetary pressure on parents and they see that the kid next door is not getting tutored in academics; they’re getting tutored in athletics. They try and keep up. People go in the hole for it.” – North Rockland Athletic Director Joe Casarella.
“For me, if it’s light out and I’m not practicing, I feel like I’m giving something away. I think you have to realize there’s a point where you’ve gotten everything done and it’s OK to leave it there. The balance is important, but that’s hard for me sometimes.”– Cameron Young, a sophomore at Wake Forest who grew up with access to the world-class golf facilities at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, where his father is the head professional.
“I am getting more incoming athletes who have already dealt with stress fractures, growth plate injuries, cartilage injuries. That’s a big deal when you’re 13 or 14 and coming into high school athletics with an injury rap sheet.” – Dave Byrnes, longtime athletic trainer at Yorktown High School.
ELITE PLAYERS: The top high school athletes are in a different class
GOLFERS: Private club access boosts high school athletes
YOUTH SPORTS: A good fit is crucial on a travel team
DRIVING THE COSTS: Are parents of young athletes behind the frenzy?
“No way I would have time to get a job. It is my job. Basketball is my job. That’s my job. That’s what going to pay for me to go to school.” – Noah Morgan, a Mount Vernon basketball player, discussing his busy tournament schedule in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League.
“I think people specialize at an early age and I’m personally not a big fan of that. I have preached to my children that I think you need to play different sports because it develops your brain.” – New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, a Purchase resident and father of three young athletes.
ABOUT THE PROJECT: Journal News/lohud sports writers Josh Thomson and Mike Dougherty, along with photojournalist John Meore, fanned out this past spring and summer to investigate the growing world of youth sports in the Lower Hudson Valley for this series, Pay to Play.