Some people see the declining number of multiple-sport athletes in our high schools as a sign that students don’t want the multiple-sport experience anymore and would prefer to specialize in a single sport.
Maybe that’s not what students want at all. Maybe, if we actually asked them, they would tell us so.
In fact, I hear that students dislike and resent the pressure their high school volleyball coach puts on them in the winter, or their basketball coach puts on them in the spring, or their baseball or softball coach puts on them in the fall and the pressure that coaches of other sports, both team and individual, place them under year-round.
What I hear when I listen to students – and admittedly, I often get to talk to the cream of the crop (e.g., our Student Advisory Council and Scholar-Athlete Award recipients) – is that they want to play multiple sports and that they need us to hear that and to help them.
I remember that when we began bowling as an MHSAA tournament sport a dozen years ago, we thought we would be appealing to and involving students who play no other school sport. We are. But we are also engaging multiple-sport athletes.
At the MHSAA Bowling Finals four weeks ago I observed many students in school letter jackets sporting letters for soccer and bowling, cross country and bowling, track and bowling, and other combinations.
It proved again to me that very many students really do want to participate in a variety of sports and that one of our core operating principles should be that we continue to facilitate and validate that experience for as many students as possible.