Shortly after the Ohio State football team won the 2015 national championship, I saw a chart that showed that 42 of the Buckeyes’ 47 recruits had played two or more sports when they were in high school.

That is an amazing statistic and truly contradicts the popular contemporary idea that to excel at the college level, a young athlete should choose one sport in which to specialize from an early age.

Supporters of this idea include David Epstein, author of the best-selling book The Sports Gene. As he said in an interview with

“Athletes who specialize early have pretty high burnout rates. I just saw some unpublished data from Division I athletes, and more than a quarter of them said they dropped a sport they were really good at because they got burned out on it. So, it looks like early sport sampling is better for ultimate skill development for most athletes and probably helps many athletes stay fresh and gives them the best chance of truly falling in love with a sport.”

Epstein makes a great point that youth athletics, all the way through high school, is the time to explore and play multiple sports. Specialize, if you desire, when you get to college. Often, the burnout factor takes place — and that burnout can be in other extracurricular activities as well.

A TrueSport study found that students who play sports have greater academic achievement, better peer relationships, and better self-esteem and self-confidence. The structure that is created by playing a sport and being involved with a team offers young people an outlet for support and bonding that truly helps in the maturing process.

That is what makes Morgan Park Academy athletics so great. We offer multiple sports and teams each season to give students a chance to play many different sports. Many of our teams do not cut players from the team, giving even beginners a chance they may not get at a bigger school.

From Middle School to Upper School, from basketball and soccer to volleyball and baseball, playing multiple sports enables students to develop athletically and explore to find where their passions truly lie.

By Daniel Peters

Mr. Peters is Director of Student Life, teaches Middle School social studies, and is Middle School assistant principal.