Many of the best athletes in the world played several sports as youths. They only limited themselves to one pursuit when they were on the cusp of a career. These days, more parents want their kids to specialize in a single sport. And it might cause young athletes to lose the ability to be dynamic. Giants quarterback Colt McCoy worries about how this will affect the future of sports.
Colt McCoy’s comments on multi-sport athletes
McCoy did a wide-ranging interview with the Positive Coaching Alliance, but the main thrust of his point was about how kids should experience sports as kids. In particular, he reserved his most intense commentary for making sure kids experience multiple sports throughout their formative years. He credits his career to having that opportunity while he grew up.
“Single-sport specialization in America is killing youth sports,” McCoy said. He thinks parents pushing their kids to focus results in undercooked athletes. They miss out on opportunities to grow both their motor skills and relationship skills. The contexts of different sports fill in gaps that growing up in a single sport can’t. And, crucially, a child can end up in the wrong sport, limiting their chances of advancing to a collegiate or pro career.
McCoy’s own multi-sport background
Colt McCoy himself is an example of why multiple sports pays off. Until the end of his junior year, he thought he’d become a professional basketball player, rather than an NFL quarterback. That was McCoy’s focus, until his natural talents led him to the 2010 NFL draft, as SB Nation reports.
The gifted athlete played baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, track & field, and of course football at his small Texas high school. McCoy credits this period with hammering him into the incredible college player he became. His Texas Sports profile points out that he started all four years in college, becoming the first player to win or share the MVP award for each season.
McCoy landed with the Cleveland Browns in 2010. He began a long career as one of the most reliable backup QBs in the game. He’s still at it, most recently signing with the New York Giants, where he adds a veteran presence to back up Daniel Jones.
Other prominent athletes with multi-sport backgrounds
When it comes to proving the worth of multi-sport athletics, look no further than Bo Jackson. He did it throughout his entire career, which was cut short only by a freak injury. But a crucial distinction is that the goal of youth multi-sports is not to be like Bo, but rather to be like almost every single successful NFL star. More often than not, if you’re in the NFL and you’re good, you grew up doing at least one other sport besides football.
Both Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, two of the best starting QBs in 2020, were talented enough at baseball to receive offers to play in the MLB. LeBron James played high school football, and his massive frame could’ve served him well there. And of course, one could do no better than to follow the model of the GOAT. Michael Jordan dabbled in golf and played baseball along with his rapid ascent toward NBA stardom.