Youth sports provide numerous health-enhancing and other important benefits to participating children and adolescents. However, the motivations and goals of young athletes often conflict with those of adult stakeholders, and they are redirected. The youth sports industry has become exclusionary, as the professional model of development increasingly is prevalent and accepted. Youth who follow this model often cannot keep up with the unrealistic expectations and excessive demands. Too much play, training, travel, and pressure frequently lead to a variety of physical and psychological problems, particularly concurrent with the vulnerability of a young athlete going through pre- or early adolescence and the rapid growth phase. The need for alternative models, emphasizing fun and fundamentals, is becoming increasingly clear and urgent. With appropriate changes, youth sports once again can be an effective entry point for a lifetime of healthy sports participation and enjoyment.
National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance, Sanford USD Medical Center, Sioux Falls, SD
Address for correspondence: Michael F. Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM, National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance, Sanford USD Medical Center, 1210 W. 18th Street, Suite 204, Sioux Falls, SD 57104 (E-mail: Michael.Bergeron@sanfordhealth.org).