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Conversations on Youth Sports with Dr. Nagda

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Dr. Nagda was recently interviewed by Michael Tyman for the Finger Lakes Times.

 

Point Blank: Conversations on youth sports (Part 1)

By MICHAEL TYMAN mtyman@fltimes.com

Feb 17, 2019

In the lead-up to the 2018-19 school sports calendar year, two orthopedic and sports medicine doctors, a state legislator, and a nationally ranked tennis amateur opened up to share their views on the status quo, problems and solutions, and the culture of youth sports today.

Dr. Sameer Nagda is an orthopedic surgeon and a sports medicine and shoulder specialist at the Anderson Clinic in Arlington, Va. Dr. James Mark is an orthopedic sports medicine specialist in Geneva. Combined, they have over 43 years’ experience in dealing with sports-related injuries and complications.

FLT: What do you see as the biggest problems in youth sports right now?

  1. NAGDA: With the possibility of college scholarships, the potential for kids and parents for playing one sport, and skipping the other sports to play one and get better at that one is increased. With that, I see a kid who has thrown a thousand pitches as an 8-year old, and that’s not right.
  2. MARK: There is one problem that we are seeing in today’s sports world — multiple sports kids are never resting. What has become a bigger and a more focused problem is the one-sport injury. That’s the new hot topic, one-sport injury, and the kind of mantra on that is that doctors can treat them, parents and coaches can prevent them.

FLT: What can be done to change the culture?

  1. MARK: If you remember every old coach — “Oh yeah I broke my finger and I popped it in place, I put tape around it and I played the rest of the season,” and now that guy can’t close his hand around the door knob. That has gone away.
  2. NAGDA: The change really has to come in through education and to some extent rules. I think Little League Baseball has put some good rules into pitching limits — that’s a good start but also that only holds well if the kid is only on one team. And it also only holds well if the coaches communicate with the parents and with the kid and say, “Okay we are going to follow these rules.”

FLT: What are some of the conditions and injuries that parents should know about?

  1. MARK: The one thing I always used to talk about was Little League elbow, or Little League shoulder, but that’s not the only one now. It’s knees from soccer players or from lacrosse players and these kids are still growing. There was no such thing back in the day as AAU, these basketball kids are not getting seen by colleges by playing in high school. They are getting seen by colleges at these AAU tournaments, and that’s basically year round.
  2. NAGDA: I just did a talk with one of (my friend’s) teams and it was the All-Star team, and I went out there and talked to the parents and I said the parents have a homework assignment. I need you to go and I need you to look up Little League shoulder and Little League elbow and know about it. Because if your kid is going to come down with anything, that’s what they are going to come down with. You need to know the signs and symptoms so when you kids start telling you hey this starting to hurt, you won’t just think, hey he’s sore.

FLT: What is your opinion on the current state of a professionalized youth culture?

  1. NAGDA: When you look at all the money and time spent on these travel teams in hopes of getting a scholarship I wonder for some of them if it would be more time efficient and cost efficient to just not get a scholarship and just pay for school. But when that mom or dad has a child with that potential they are going to say, “Well, if I don’t do all this then the kid isn’t going to meet their potential,” and they are unfortunately right because in this day and age that’s what it takes to get there.
  2. MARK: If you look at statistics, something like 12 percent of high school football players play college football at all levels. Of all the levels of college football players something like 4-percent play professional football. Parents and coaches need to know the odds.

FLT: How have youth sports impacted you personally?

  1. MARK: I’ve been practicing sports medicine now for 24 years. If you look back at the years that I grew up, I played three sports. I played football, basketball, and when baseball was over, I was a kid in the summertime. I rode a bike, I had whiffle-ball tournaments, I swam, I climbed trees, but I wasn’t doing a sport. I was basically doing multiple fun things that a 12-18 year-old does. That culture has changed in many ways.
  2. NAGDA: My kids don’t play anything year round. My kids swim, my son plays baseball, basketball, and swims, my daughter swims, plays soccer, and she just started rock climbing. We throw them into all different things and say, “Hey what do you enjoy?” and that’s basically what it comes down to. You see a lot more injuries now because there is a lot more emphasis on sports at an earlier age. For me, I liked sports and I knew I wasn’t going to be an athlete so I figured this is probably the next good way to do things.
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