Dr. Tony Moreno has been on the faculty of Eastern Michigan University since 2004, and he has worked with the Michigan High School Athletic Association coaches education program since 2000. He met recently with the MHSAA’s Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation. This paraphrases some of what he shared:

  1. Young people who do not learn physical literacy (learn how to solve movement problems), are less likely to be physically active and, therefore, less likely to be physically fit (and more ultimately costly to society).

  2. Specialization leads to silos of ability that hinder competence and confidence in other activities, and these deficits last a lifetime. Sports done right creates a culture of problem-solvers.

  3. Research is inconclusive if specialization is the path to the elite level of sports, but it is conclusive that specialization is the path to chronic, long-term negative effects.

  4. The root of today’s problems is the loss of physical education from schools. The result today is “privatized PE” available for the “haves” (not the “have-nots”). It’s a free market, capitalized experience for those able to pay for it; but it’s no longer just for country club sports, but all sports, and it’s even coming to football (7 on 7).

  5. Those who want to reintroduce multi-sport participation or return schools to the center of the youth sports experience must learn how to compete with non-school, commercial offerings for the hearts and minds of parents and coaches, which is where the “cash and control” of youth sports resides.

  6. To educate means “to draw out.” Our purpose in school sports is to draw out the hidden abilities in youth and help them build confidence and competence to be-come healthier problem-solvers. Specialization is an expensive health issue for society that balanced participation can help to mitigate.


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From the Director is the official MHSAA Blog which will touch on pertinent school sports topics periodically throughout the school year from various MHSAA Staff.