Sports and kids: To specialize in one sport or diversify

LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Parents have their kids play sports for different reasons: to stay active, to make friends or maybe, you want them to get a college scholarship and possibly become the next Michael Jordan or Serena Williams.

NEWS10 ABC’s Josh Rultenberg spoke with one local family who has their two children going down separate paths with the same goal in mind.

Jaaziel and Uriel Olayinka both see themselves as becoming professional athletes someday.

Jaaziel aspires to be a professional soccer player, while Uriel dreams of becoming a professional basketball player.

Most young kids who play sports think like Jaaziel and Uriel Olayinka.

The 11 year-old twins from Latham love to compete and are constantly working to get better. They have been playing soccer since they were four.

“Let them enjoy it but, every kid’s going to have their own story,” said their father, Ayo Olayinka.

They used to play basketball together, but Jaaziel decided it wasn’t for him.

“When he said he didn’t want to play basketball, I tried as much as possible to kind of steer him like continue playing to do a sport, but he said no,” Ayo said. “[I said] Okay. If you don’t want to play basketball anymore, that’s fine.”

However, what’s fine, his parents, Ayo and Comfort Olayinka, could unknowingly be hurting their child.

“You shouldn’t really sub-specialize,” said Dr. Max Alley, Orthopedic Surgeon at the Bone and Joint Center in Albany. “You should do multiple sports.”

Dr. Alley, who specializes in sports medicine, says even though the twins are similar in stature, Jaaziel is more at risk for injury because he plays only one sport.

“There used to be kids, [who] would run around and jump over streams and over fences and land awkwardly, go out play kick the can at night time where the terrain was uneven, and you’d get used to dealing with that,” said Alley. “And that, I think that if the more you’re doing different sports, the better balance and coordination you get.”

Parents also have to figure it out financially.

Between team membership costs, gear and travel expenses, the Olayinka’s say they dish out more than $10,000 a year.

With that kind of tab, how could the average family possibly pay for college? A scholarship would help, but Ayo and Comfort aren’t banking on that.

“There are just too many variables,” Ayo said. “Like, you don’t want to plan on that. That’s like planning on winning the lottery.”

Should you hit the lottery, what’s to say your child or children don’t get burnt out? Ayo says at the end of each season, he and his wife make sure the twins take two months off, and before they start another season, they’ll ask their kids if they want to continue.

“I think it’s more about what is driving the parents to do it,” Ayo said. “If it’s ‘I want them to be LeBron or Kobe someday,’ then you never let him miss a season. You never let him miss a tournament. I’m not worried about that.”

In fact, what the Olayinka’s are worried about when it comes to their twin boys, is their education first and foremost.

They both have told their kids it’s great to dream about becoming a professional athlete and it would be icing on the cake if they become a professional, but how about looking at the top ten schools for academics and their particular sport, so just in case athletics don’t work out, you can still fall back on your education.

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