Until It Hurts

America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids

Mark Hyman,

Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids
 
 
This "hair-raising look at everything that is wrong with youth sports today"—its perils, its history, its key drivers—is a powerful call for positive change (Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights)

Over the last seventy-five years, adults have staged a hostile takeover of kids' sports. In 2003 alone, more than 3.5 million children under age fifteen required medical treatment for sports injuries—nearly half of which were the result of simple overuse. The quest to turn children into tomorrow's superstar athletes has often led adults to push them beyond physical and emotional limits.

In Until It Hurts, journalist, coach, and sports dad Mark Hyman explores how youth sports reached this problematic state. His investigation takes him from the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania to a prestigious Chicago soccer club, from adolescent golf and tennis superstars in Atlanta to California volleyball players. He interviews dozens of children, parents, coaches, psychologists, surgeons, sports medicine specialists, and former professional athletes. He speaks at length with Whitney Phelps, Michael's older sister; retraces the story of A Very Young Gymnast, and its subject, Torrance York; and tells the saga of the Castle High School girls' basketball team of Evansville, Indiana, which lost three-fifths of its lineup to ACL injuries in 2005. Along the way, Hyman hears numerous stories: about a mother who left her fifteen-year-old daughter at an interstate exit after a heated exchange over her performance during a soccer game, about a coach who ordered preteens to swim laps in three-hour shifts for twenty-four hours.

Hyman's exploration leads him to examine the history of youth sports in our country and how it has evolved, particularly with the increasing involvement of girls and much more proactive participation of parents. With its unique multiple perspective—of history, of reporting, and of personal experience—Until It Hurts delves into the complicated issue of sports for children, opening up a much-needed discussion about the perils of youth sports culture and offering insight into how positive change can be made.


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