Ahead of the Game: Sports as year- round enterprises - Tucson Local Media: Import

Ahead of the Game: Sports as year- round enterprises

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Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2006 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:52 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

July 26, 2006 - The temporary, yet quizzical look on Brent Lush's face suggested that the question in front of him asked: "why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?"

The query - posed behind the Canyon Del Oro High School dugout at Arthur Pack Park during the fourth inning of the baseball team's summer league match up against Ironwood Ridge - in fact, was a lot simpler.

"Hey Brent, what's the score?"

Lush didn't know the answer.

But you can't blame the bushy-haired, barrel-chested CDO junior if he's a little confused. He had a legitimate excuse.

"I don't know," said Lush, back from that far-out place he went to think about the answer. "I just got here from football practice."

The real question is who can keep track of all these sports, leagues and teams these days? Schedules are getting longer, thus reducing the amount of time between seasons - time that used to be spent either playing another sport or, believe it or not, resting.

And no one is immune. Nowadays, it starts with the professional ranks and filters down through the elementary schools. There are 176 days between the start of NFL camps and the Super Bowl, which is about 50 more days to sleep in than Major League Baseball players get.

The biggest culprits are the NBA and NHL, and to a lesser extent, NASCAR. The NBA goes on hiatus for a grand total of 106 days to the NHL's 81 from camp to Cup. NASCAR breaks for 85 days.

And so it's begun to trickle down to the younger leagues.

Traveling teams, such the Tucson Inferno, a Fastpitch softball squad of the United States Sports Association, play 45 weekends out of the year. The only time they shut down is for the high school season. The same also goes for baseball, golf, swimming, volleyball and wrestling to name just a handful.

Sport has become a year-round enterprise just to keep up with itself. Kids don't extend seasons, parents, coaches and league administrators do.

Therefore, the multi-sport athlete is becoming a relic. Kids pick one sport and stick with it. But for what? The hopes that one day you'll be able to punch your time card in the big leagues? Living vicariously through your kids is becoming more and more dangerous.

CDO baseball coach Len Anderson estimates that one percent of all high school players will reach the bigs. His son, Dennis, found that out the hard way. After a stellar career at CDO and the University of Arizona, Anderson bounced around the minors with the Cubs and Marlins before getting the ax this spring at the age of 28.

An influx of games combined with the decrease in rest is causing more injuries. Ten years ago you never heard of kids needing Tommy John surgery to replace arm ligaments. Nowadays, it's becoming more common for kids and pros not only to need the surgery, but now they are rebounding from it stronger.

And you wonder why kids - and again, also the pros - turn to steroids.

Perhaps the fact that teams and athletes can play year round in Arizona is a blessing. It also could be harmful. At least if you live in the Midwest or Northeast you get a break for the winter.

Until it starts to snow in Southern Arizona, multi-sport athletes such as Lush, will be forced to double up and the tough questions will continue.

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