The Mildly Disturbing Future of Youth Sports in America


A physician fed up with constantly treating sports-related injuries in children recently relayed his frustration in an op-ed in The New York Times. Ron J. Turker, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, decried the intensity of youth sports today.

“[O]ur very young kids play harder, and for more hours, than ever before,” Dr. Turker wrote. “… As parents, we want what’s best for our kids but we’ve abdicated our parental rights and duties to the new societal norm. Youth sports have become big business.”

Assuming parents and coaches don’t heed Dr. Turker’s criticism, what might the future of youth sports and, say, youth sports summer camps look like? I had one idea …


Dear Parents,

We are thrilled that your young athletes are joining us here at Camp Run And Play this summer. Their one-week stay will be chock-full of every challenging and enriching activity a budding sports star could possibly imagine! Rest assured that although 98% of youngsters fail to secure college athletic scholarships, the thousands that you are paying in camp tuition for our professional training program will at least somewhat improve your son or daughter’s depressingly minuscule chances of being among the coveted two percent. Way to go, Mom and Dad!

We have included with this letter the schedule for this upcoming session. Please review it carefully and ensure that your family physician as well as a psychologist have cleared your child for participation in each activity and event.

Day 1:

Arrival and orientation day. Campers will be assigned to bunks based on sports affinity. Snowboarders are encouraged to “just crash on somebody’s couch, dude.”

Camp counselors will lead ice-breaking exercises consisting of campers learning each other’s relevant statistics, such as batting averages, passing accuracy, and vertical leap. The camper in each bunk with the best aggregate stats will be crowned MVP of the bunk. The camper with the worst aggregate stats will be given repeated wedgies.

Day 2:

Wake up before sunrise for an invigorating 10-mile run, rain or shine, and then enjoy a healthy bowl of Wheaties. During cereal consumption, campers are encouraged to stare at the sports figure on the cover of the box and chant, “This will be ME someday.” If you believe it, you will be it!

Three hours of drills in the campers’ chosen sports will follow before breaking for a delicious lunch of energy bars and protein shakes. After lunch, campers will be assigned to teams in their respective sports for approximately five hours of friendly scrimmaging. The spitting, biting, and occasional stabbing with chiseled athletic cup shanks seen last year is strongly discouraged this summer.

Day 3:

Wake up before sunrise for an invigorating 14-mile run, rain or shine, and repeat the same morning schedule as Day 2. Scrimmaging teams will once again compete in the afternoon, but not before several top-performing players arbitrarily choose to switch teams. One or two mid-size cities will be up in arms over said trades but all will be forgiven once the players pen heartfelt essays about their decisions in Sports Illustrated.

Day 4:

The Camp Run And Play tournament begins! Wake up before sunrise for an invigorating 20-mile run, rain or shine, before starting a day of round-robin game play in the lead-up to tomorrow’s championship games. Campers may use breaks between games to design their own fashion lines or romance a Kardashian.

A campwide talent show will help campers unwind on the night before the big day. We recognize the importance of downtime, so campers will be encouraged to display less athletic talents, such as soccer flopping, End Zone dances, and looking dead-eyed in an Enrique Iglesias video.

Day 5:

Championship Day! This is the day your camper has spent all week and, really, all of his or her short life training for. Campers wake up before sunrise for an invigorating 30-mile run before giving it their all in quarter-final, final, and championship games and matches in their chosen sports. Winners will be encouraged to enroll in additional sessions at camp. (Losers will also be encouraged to enroll in additional sessions at camp.)

The day will conclude with an informational presentation for campers and parents on how to impress scouts and recruiters. Subjects covered will include “Baked Goods, Not Bribes!” and “Is It Stalking When … ?” Campers who will require intravenous fluids by day’s end will be permitted to cart their IV bags and poles to the lecture hall.


You’ll be amazed at how much your campers learn and grow over the course of this exciting week. They will learn to bat/throw/pass/kick/hit better than any of their preschool classmates who have the misfortune of not attending our fair camp. And the potty-trained* 3-year-olds, in particular — the elder statesmen of the camp — will be sure to impress you with their speed and endurance even in the face of tear-inducing shin splints. Talk about “crying it out!”

Thanks again for choosing Camp Run And Play, and the let the fun begin!

Sincerely yours,

The Camp Director


*All campers are required to supply their own diapers and wipes. Binkies will be provided by the camp for an additional fee.


Image courtesy of ThinkStock

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