One-year-old Sam toddles across a yard into the arms of his welcoming parents. In kindergarten, he loves to run and jump with his classmates on the playground. When he is 6, his parents sign him up for t-ball and eventually to Little League. Although he still loves baseball, his parents encourage him to try out for JV football in middle school and he makes the team easily. Because of his agility and strength, he quickly becomes one of the school team’s star running backs.

Sam begins to be concerned about his involvement with football. He wishes he had never had to give up baseball, and he never got a chance to try basketball, although he thinks that might be fun. The football games take up many of his evenings, too, and he wonders about the effects on his grades. Is it all worth it? He wonders if he should quit or continue to pursue a dream he no longer thinks of as his own.


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of sport notes that it is “physical activity (as running or an athletic game) engaged in for pleasure or exercise.” Other definitions mention goals of entertainment and diversion. Most definitions make no mention of scholarships and lucrative advertising deals, crushing opponents, and winning at all costs. Yet, more than 50% of children and youth who begin with a love of sports end up dropping out by the age of 12 or even younger because of these and other pressures (Ewing & Seefeldt, 1991). Among the reasons given are that they are no longer having fun, that parents are becoming too invested in whether they play or win, and that they have had to specialize at the cost of other sports they once enjoyed.

This week you examine youth sports, with a focus on individuals ages 6–18. According to Sage and Eitzen (2015), high school sports have become an American obsession.

Many debates swirl around youth sports:

· Do they affect academics, cost too much, take away the fun that students once enjoyed?

· Are sports on this level guilty of misplaced priorities: entailing expenditures that would be better spent on academics?

You will debate different sides of specialization: an issue related to ethics in youth sports.

Ewing, M. E., & Seefeldt, V. (1991). Participation and attrition patterns in American agency-sponsored and interscholastic sports. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Institute for the Study of Youth Sports.

Sage, G. H., & Eitzen, D. S., (2015). Sociology of North American sport (10th ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

> Use the Weekly Learning Materials to support this discussion.


For this Discussion, you will develop a debate on a very prevalent ethical issue related to youth and interscholastic sports: specialization. Half of you will argue in favor of specialization on youth sports and half of you will argue against specialization in youth sports. Those of you with last names beginning with A–L will argue in favor of specialization and those with last names beginning with M–Z will argue against specialization in youth sports. Individually, you will develop arguments in favor of your side.

Consider these questions:

· Who are some of the drivers of this trend, and what are their motivations?

· What are some of the short-term effects of specialization on students?

· What are some of the long-term effects of specialization?

· What are some of the pros and cons?

By Tuesday, 11:59 p.m. ET:

Post a description of the youth sports specialization issue and the side of the debate to which you have been assigned. Then, justify your side of the specialization debate by including the case and arguments you have developed.