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Featured Letter: Think of the risks a year-round sports facility brings

To the editor:

Even though I’m sure the article about the new Sports East project was meant to excite parents, you should also alert them to how the indoor sports facilities now springing up across America may be exacerbating a growing epidemic among young athletes.

As the son of retired MLB pitcher Tommy John, I’ve had to watch my father’s name become attached to a procedure that now affects more kids than pro athletes. Fifty-seven percent of all Tommy John surgeries now take place on athletes between 15-19 years old. But it’s not just about baseball. Since 2010, the nation’s youth-sports industry has grown by 55 percent into a $15 billion industry — and kid’s bodies are paying the price.

These facilities allow you to play a sport year-long, and as research has proven, young athletes spending more than eight months annually in a single sport not only increases their risk of injury by 70 percent, but they’re more likely to participate in less games, incur more major injuries and have a shorter career.

Please remind sports parents that young athletes need a break if they want to perform at their highest level, and these facilities may be more inclined to keep them coming in for lessons, training, and programs they ‘think’ they need to make it big — but all they may yield is big trouble.

—Dr. Tommy John

The writer is the author of the book “Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance: A Sports Parent’s Survival Guide.”