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  • Jackie Barrett - Special Olympian
    November 07, 2013 - 06:56

    John Browne's article about the consequences of participating in too many sports is definitely bang on. As a 26 year Special Olympics member, I seen many Special Olympians participating in multiple sports to help their skill sets in their core or main sport. For example, a Sprinter would participate in Speed Skating to help him/her with Track and Field during the off season. In fact, according to Special Olympics Nova Scotia and Special Olympics Canada, a typical Special Olympian trains and participates in three sports, and some of them are involved in as many as seven or even eight sports. While participating in numerous sports are a great way to stay in shape, it also has disastrous consequences, including diminished overall athletic performance. I know one athlete from Nova Scotia whom competed at the Special Olympics Canada Games numerous times, but doesn't seem to get to the international level as he/she is involved in eight sports and hurting his/her performance in core sports at a national level. The main reason Special Olympics has a multi-sport problem are due to inadequate training times as many Special Olympics regions in Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada provide only one day of practice at one hour per week, forcing athletes to explore their options to stay in shape and build their skill sets in their core sports. In order for Special Olympics to reduce their multi-sport problem, some solutions include encourage their regions to provide more practice time, at least two hours per day and twice per week, and impose restrictions on how many sports an athlete can participate. For example, Special Olympics can impose a two winter and two summer sport restriction. Even though it might take away athlete's choices, it will help Special Olympians perform much better in their core sport in the long run.