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Cubs manager Joe Maddon: Specialization is ‘obnoxious’

August 31, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon this week again voiced his displeasure with specialization, saying kids would gain more from having experience in a variety of sports.

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon. | Photo: Arturo Pardavila

“Specialization, especially at an early age, is obnoxious to me,” Maddon said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “I’m anti-specialization. I prefer the liberal arts of everything. I think kids should play every sport.”

Maddon was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing football, baseball and basketball. At Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, he played catcher on the baseball team and quarterbacked the school’s freshman football team.

This isn’t the first time Maddon has taken issue with specialization. In 2015, he railed against travel teams and the amount of money parents spend to help their children play year round.

Here is what he said in 2015:

“That’s why I hate the specialization with kids, when they’re playing on these travel squads when they’re like 12, 13, 14 years old, only dedicated to one thing,” he said. “Traveling all the time. Paying exorbitant amounts of money to play baseball with hopes they’re going to become a professional baseball player.

“I think that’s crazy.”

“I love cross-pollination when it comes to athletes,” Maddon said. “You get guys that did not just play baseball, meaning they’ve been around a different set of coaches and styles and ways to get in shape and thoughts. I love that.”

There’s a long list of managers, coaches and professional athletes who encourage kids to play multiple sports. On top of that, numerous studies conclude that specialization increases the risk of injury and burnout for young athletes.

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