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The rise of year-round sports
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Over the last 20 years several factors have combined to change the landscape of youth sports across the United States. An increase in the number of young people participating in sports has led to the rise of an almost European style of club and travel teams that operate independently of the high school sports network. According to a summary study entitled Sports Specialization in Young Athletes published in May 2013 by the American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine there was a 33% increase in the number of children 6 years and younger participating in organized sports in the United States. The same study cited “the growing number of travel leagues in 7 or 8 years of age” as further evidence of growth in youth sports. Those statements line-up with what Programs and Facilities Coordinator Buffie Hamil is seeing at Rock Creek Park. During a season that ran from Aug 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019 Hamil arranged for tournament and practice fields for 14 travel or club teams with softball seeing the largest increase climbing from one team in 2018 to four teams this year, although she couldn’t put her finger on any particular reason for the increase.