Bone Bulletin


Background/Scope of the Problem

Early sport specialization, defined as playing one sport for over eight months in a year without participation in any other sports, has gained significant popularity in recent years.1,2 Increasing numbers of young baseball players are leaving their local leagues for travel programs where they may pay thousands to play for a team year-round.3 Youth baseball players are competing in more games than ever. During the busiest months, summer travel teams routinely schedule around 80 games over the course of just three months.4 Putting this in perspective, Division I college programs play about 60 games per year over a five-month span.5

While teams, tournament hosts, and other entities profit from youth athletics, the question remains: does early specialization provide any benefit for the athletes? This article will discuss the perceived benefits and risks of early sport specialization in baseball, and how physicians can support athletes pursuing this path.

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