Today’s Super Bowl features one of the sport’s most dynamic young quarterbacks. Referring to Patrick Mahomes simply by the position he plays does not give him justice, though. His talent is undeniably special. However, there is a big difference between being special and being specialized. Patrick Mahomes’ often non-traditional play-making ability is part of what makes him unique. He is also part of a rare, dying breed. That is, the multi-sport athlete.
This Washington Post article does an excellent job of explaining how his unique athleticism was cultivated from playing multiple sports. His success is a function of not specializing early in any one sport. Today’s culture of achievement has led to a mentality where we think children need to be fully immersed at all times beginning at a young age in order to excel at whatever sport or activity they want to pursue. This is usually the wrong strategy and can even be detrimental.
For any parent or young athlete that struggles with thinking kids miss out or fall behind by playing multiple sports, the Washington Post article is a must read. Additionally, Range, by David Epstein, which is referenced in the article, breaks down the myth that specialization is the key to success and provides numerous examples in sports, the arts, and even business, to the contrary.
The debate surrounding early sport specialization demands more attention from all stakeholders – parents, children, and organizations. More will come on this, but for now please check out the article and/or book.
Enjoy the game.