Dr. Christopher Stankovich answers more of your questions this month. Have an inquiry? Send it to Dr. Stankovich (contact information is below).

Dr. Christopher Stankovich answers more of your questions this month. Have an inquiry? Send it to Dr. Stankovich (contact information is below).

Dear Dr. Stankovich,
What is "sport sampling?"

S.D., Worthington

Dear S.D.,
Sport sampling is the process of exposing your child to a number of different sports to determine his or her interest level, as well as talents and abilities. Many kids specialize in one sport, but that may not always be a good decision.

Whether or not your child decides to specialize in one sport exclusively, I highly recommend considering sport sampling with kids 10 and younger. Try to expose your child to individual sports (golf) and team sports (soccer), as well as contact sports (football, basketball) and non-contact sports (tennis). Try to evaluate her strengths and weaknesses in each sport - then ask your child which sports she likes best. By taking time to decide what is best for your child, you can be sure she will enjoy herself and get the most from the youth athletic experience.


Dear Dr. Stankovich,
My wife and I are concerned that hazing may be going on with my son's team. Some of the things we have heard sound potentially dangerous, but we are not sure what to do. Do you have any suggestions?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,
"Hazing" is loosely defined as subjecting individuals to abuse or humiliation. In sports, it is not uncommon for variations of hazing to occur, and some old-school athletes would even argue that hazing is part of participation in sports. Obviously, there is a fine line between traditional practices that welcome new players in safe, fun, non-harmful ways and those that may lead to terrible consequences.

For example, a team that requires new players to sing a fight song to their teammates on the first day of practice could be considered a hazing ritual, but most people would probably agree that outside of a moment of embarrassment, the incident would probably not cause any long-term psychological harm. On the other hand, rituals that include physical abuse of any kind should never be tolerated.

If you feel the hazing within your son's team is potentially dangerous, I would encourage you to contact the coach immediately. If you feel the coach already knows about the hazing and possibly even endorses a potentially dangerous ritual, contact the athletic director or league supervisor and voice your concerns.

Kids should never be put in harm's way simply for being a part of a team. Unfortunately, these incidents do happen, but the good news is that when people speak out, they usually end very quickly.