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Lawmakers Explore Regulating Youth Sports in Massachusetts

BOSTON – Lawmakers on Beacon Hill are exploring whether youth sports should be regulated in Massachusetts.

“I do think as a whole, we really need to look at this whole system that’s going on now,” said State Sen. Barry Finegold.

On Thursday, lawmakers heard from coaches, doctors, and experts about the negative impacts the game and the pressures that come with it can have on kids grades K-8 both physically and mentally.

“I know of some that by the time they get to high school they’re done. They’re burnt out. They traveled too much,” said David Moura, President of Mass. High School Football Coaches Association.

The end goal for many is to win, to make it to the big leagues, but at what cost?

“They don’t recover. They end up banged up. And they quit sports because they’re tired and they resent that they have to do it,” said sports trainer Walter Norton Jr. “That they’re pushed so hard or that they have to live up to a certain obligation.”

Senator Finegold is heading the hearing and explains how college sports are overseen by the NCAA, and high school sports in Massachusetts by the MIAA.

“But for our most vulnerable population, youth sports, why is there nothing out there?” Finegold said.

Author Linda Flanagan believes much of the problem is on the parents pressuring kids to overspecialize in a sport to secure college scholarships.

“They have found out that athletics are a good way to get in, we saw this in Varsity Blues,” Flanagan said. “So, parents feel this pressure to start their kids at younger and younger ages and that has a dramatic effect on a kid’s wellbeing.”

So, what’s the solution? Senator Finegold says limiting the sports season could be a start, or setting boundaries as to how long kids can play organized sports.

“I’m worried about the amount of time that young people have to commit at such a young age, and I’m also worried about the wear and tear on their bodies,” Finegold said.  

Source : CBSNews