Extreme Sports Dangerous Essay Scholarships

The following scholarships are provided by GetSchooled and are grouped by topic. Check out MONEY’s Best Colleges finder tool and overall rankings, or get more information on paying for college at GetSchooled.com.

Big Money Scholarships

These scholarships all offer $10,000 or more.

Cameron Impact Scholarship

Scholarships for students with high academic achievement who have a stated goal of public service and/or demonstrated active participation in community service.

  • Amount: Up to $50,000 per year (intended to cover tuition, fees, course related expenses, books, supplies and equipment)
  • Deadline: September 15, May 15 (two application cycles per year)

Live Mas Scholarship

Scholarships open to all students, ages 16-24, currently enrolled or enrolling in an accredited post-high school program. To apply, create and submit a video (two minutes or less in length) that tells the story of your life’s passion.

  • Amount: Up to $25,000
  • Deadline: May 2018

Davidson Fellowship

Scholarships for students with a project in the STEM or humanities fields that have the potential to make a positive contribution to society.

  • Amount: Up to $50,000
  • Deadline: February 8

James W. McLamore WHOPPER Scholarship Program

Scholarships for students who demonstrate an active leadership role in community service, athletics, etc.

  • Amount: Up to $50,000
  • Deadline: December 15

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship Program

Scholarships for high-achieving students that require financial aid.

  • Amount: Up to $40,000 per year (renewable)
  • Deadline: December 1

Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Competition

Scholarships focused on leadership and need.

  • Amount: Up to $50,000
  • Deadline: November 30

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology

Individuals or teams research and develop projects in Math, Science, and Technology fields and compete for large scholarship awards.

  • Amount: $100,000 grand prize, $50,000 second place, all other finalists receive $25,000
  • Deadline: September 19

The Dream.us Scholarship Program

For highly motivated DREAMers who want to get a college education. Must have significant financial need, academic promise, as well as determination and perseverance. Must attend a partner college.

  • Amount: Can cover up to 100% of tuition fees and books at partner colleges
  • Deadline: March 8

Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway Contest

Submit a video that describes how you want to make an impact with your degree — also have to throw a football as a finalist.

  • Amount: $100,000 (grand prize), also $20,000 runner up prizes and $2,500 consolation prizes
  • Deadline: October 19

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Write a no more than 1,200-word essay using one of the three prompts given on the website.

  • Amount: Up to $20,000
  • Deadline: May 10

Voice of America Scholarship

Applicants must write or record an essay on an annual patriotic theme.

  • Amount: Up to $30,000
  • Deadline: November 1

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

Scholarships based on students’ capacity to lead, succeed in school, and make an impact on their schools and communities.

  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: October 31

AXA Achievement Scholarship

Demonstrate long-term achievement outside the classroom like a project at school, in their community, etc.

  • Amount: Up to $25,000
  • Deadline: December 15

CIA Undergraduate Scholarship Program

Full-time students can spend their summer breaks working with the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., doing meaningful work related to their major. Requires 3.0 GPA, 1000 SAT/21 ACT, and sufficient financial need.

  • Amount: Salary up to $38,701 and tuition assistance up to $18,000
    Deadline: August 14

Last-Minute Scholarships

Students can apply to these even in July and August (or later!) for the coming academic year.

Once Upon a Poem Scholarship

Submit your own creative interpretation of a classic fairy tale for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: August 30

iVein Health and Wellness Scholarship

Write an 800- to 1,000-word essay about how to approach living a healthy lifestyle as a college student, and how to sustain healthy habits over a lifetime.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: August 31 for fall semester, December 31 for winter/spring

#MyFutureSelfie Entrepreneurial Scholarship

Envision yourself as a future business owner and snap a selfie of what you think that would look like. Post the selfie to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn with the hashtag #MyFutureSelfie to be considered for a $10,000 scholarship.

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: September 4

Olshan Foundation Scholarship

Write a 500-word essay describing your motivation to pursue a degree in your chosen field of study, and submit a 30-second video describing your essay. Requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: August 12

Redfin Scholarship

Write a 300- to 500-word essay describing how the community you grew up in influenced who you are today. Requires a minimum 3.5 GPA.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: July 31

Avomeen Science Student Award

Scholarship for college students pursuing a career in science. Complete the application form and write a 450-word essay describing the moment when you realized you wanted to pursue a scientific degree.

  • Amount: $1,000 grand prize, $500 second place
  • Deadline: August 31

Bud Siegfried Scholarship

Scholarship for currently enrolled college students pursuing a degree. To apply, write a 500- to 700-word essay about how injury attorneys can make a difference in the case of an accident, and a 400-word essay about an act of service you have performed in the last three weeks.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: July 31

Student Transportation Video Scholarship

Submit a two-to-four minute video that examines any aspect of transportation in the United States.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: August 15

Spokeo Connections Scholarship

Scholarship for students who write a 300-500 word essay on how they use the internet to strengthen communities or human connection.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: Fall 2017

AFSA Second Chance Scholarship

Students can take a quick quiz to be entered into a drawing for scholarships.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: August 30

Scholarships That Don’t Require You to Demonstrate Financial Need

Richard and Elizabeth Dean Scholarship

Scholarships based on academic merit, with an initial minimum GPA of 4.0 and renewal conditional upon maintenance of a 3.25 GPA.

  • Amount: $5,000 renewable each year for a total of $20,000
  • Deadline: February 10

DAR Scholarships for Political Science, History, Government and Economics

Scholarships for students interested in studying political science, history or economics.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: February 10

Spirit of Anne Frank Scholarship

Write an essay describing contributions you have made to your community and how their goals are inspired by Anne Frank with a focus on commitment to social justice.

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Deadline: March 17

Brower Youth Awards

Scholarships for outstanding leaders working to alleviate and find solutions to environmental problems.

  • Amount: $3,000, a professionally produced short film about their work from an Emmy award winning film crew, and flight and accommodations for a week-long trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Deadline: May 15

Helen Brett Scholarship

Scholarship for currently enrolled college students that are interested in exploring the study of exhibition management.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: June 1

Inverters R Us Power Scholarships

Write an essay answering the prompt: “How are DC to AC power inverters used in the world today?”

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: June 30

Delete Cyberbullying Scholarship Award

Write an essay of 500 words or less about cyberbullying.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: June 30

Essay.ws Writing Contest

Write a 900-1,000 word essay on one of the topics provided on the site.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: September 1

Scholarships That Don’t Require an Essay

US Bank Scholarship

Students enter for a chance to win a $20,000 scholarship.

  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: October 27

Vectorworks Design Scholarship

Students submit an original design product to be considered for tuition awards and media recognition.

  • Amount: Up to $7,000
  • Deadline: July 15

“No Essay” Scholarship

Create an account with Niche for a chance to win a $2,000 scholarship.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: May 31

Courageous Persuaders Scholarships

Make a 30-second TV commercial about the dangers of underage drinking or texting while driving. Grand prize winner will be seen on television.

  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: February 9

Disaster Preparation Scholarship

Students create a video that shows how proper planning for a hurricane or other flood disaster can be valuable.

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: November 1

Young Arts Scholarship

Scholarships for student artists in film, design, music, dance, photography, visual arts, theater, and writing.

  • Amount: Up to $10,000 and a master class in your artistic discipline
  • Deadline: October 13

Student Transportation Video Contest

Students create an original two- to four-minute video examining any aspect of either of the two categories: general transportation or safety.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: August 15

AFSA Second Chance Scholarship

Students take a quick quiz to be entered into a drawing for scholarships.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: August 30

Stuck At Prom Scholarship Contest

Scholarship awarded to students who make the best prom-wear (suits, dresses, belts, corsages, etc.) out of duct tape.

  • Amount: Up to $10,000 to each individual entrant ($20,000 per couple)
  • Deadline: May 31

Parry and Pfau Left-Handed Scholarship

Students submit a one- to two-minute YouTube video on why it is better to left-handed than right-handed and will be judged on creativity, humor and overall quality. You do not have to be left-handed in order to apply for this award.

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: July 31

Scholarships for Women

Beyoncé Formation Scholarship

Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year to encourage and support young women who are bold, creative, confident, and unafraid to think outside the box. For students attending Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, and Spelman College.

  • Amount: Up to cost of tuition
  • Deadline: May 12

Distinguished Young Women Scholarship

Scholarship for female students who have participated in a Distinguished Young Women program.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Continuous

Society for Women Engineers

Scholarships for women who plan to pursue a career in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science.

  • Amount: Range from $1,000 to $20,000
  • Deadline: February 15

ESA Foundation Scholarship Program

Scholarships for women and minority students pursuing degrees leading to careers in computer and video game arts.

  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: May 4

BHW Scholarship

Scholarships for women who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in STEM.

  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: April 15

Advancement of Women in Sports and Entertainment Scholarship

Scholarships for women pursuing a degree in Communication Studies, Marketing, Public Relations, Media Studies or Journalism.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: June 15

Ford Empowering America Scholarship

Scholarships for a current college student who makes a short video profiling an influential or inspirational woman in their community.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: May 1

Women in Public Finance Scholarship

Scholarships for women who have an interest in public finance.

  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: July 14

Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Support Awards

Scholarships for low-income women with children who are pursuing higher education or career training.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: August 1

Asian Women in Business Scholarship

Scholarships for Asian female undergrads who have demonstrated scholarship, leadership, community service, or entrepreneurship.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: 2018

Women in Aviation Scholarships

Scholarships for members of the Women in Aviation association who have a passion for aviation.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: November 16

Scholarships for Artsy Kids

Houzz Scholarship Program

Scholarships for students enrolled in architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture programs at the undergraduate or graduate level.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: June 30

Gabriel Prize Competition

Students pursuing a career in architecture submit illustrations of personal work to the competition. Winners receive a three-month trip to France to study classical architecture and the landscape.

  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: June 1

John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Scholarship Fund

Scholarships for students who practice classical/traditional art in the mediums of painting, drawing from figure, landscape, and composition.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: February 1

Nellie Love Butcher Music Scholarship

Scholars for female music students undertaking a degree in piano or voice.

  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: February 10

Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest

Scholarship for artists who paint or draw an entry that expresses patriotism.

  • Amount: Up to $21,000
  • Deadline: March 31

Mary Doctor Performing Arts Scholarship Fund

For students pursuing a degree in a discipline related to the performing arts (e.g., music, dance, theater, etc.)

  • Amount: $10,000 (renewable)
  • Deadline: March 16

Krylon Clear Choice Art Scholarship

Scholarship for students planning to major in visual arts. To apply, submit a portfolio of three to six works of art/images on CD.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: May 31

Kodak Student Scholarship Program

Submit a completed film that communicates a story or theme in some fashion. Submissions can be no longer than 30 minutes.

  • Amount: $5,000 scholarship tuition award + $5,000 KODAK motion picture grant
  • Deadline: May 18

Scholarships for Members of Ethnic Groups

APIASF/NASA Scholarship

Scholarship for an Asian/Pacific Islander student interested in studying engineering or computer science.

  • Amount: $2,900
  • Deadline: January 2018

Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship

Scholarships for students with at least 50% Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity who are pursuing a major in the performing, visual arts, journalism, or mass communications.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: May 31

Adelante! Fund Scholarships

Multiple scholarships to inspire Latino students to graduate and lead, along with internships and leadership training.

  • Amount: Up to $3,000
  • Deadline: June 5

Carole Simpson Scholarship

Scholarship to encourage and help minority students to overcome hurdles along their career path in electronic journalism.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: May 31

Davis Scholarship for Women in STEM

Scholarship to encourage minority female college students attending a UNCF member institution to pursue a career in the STEM fields.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: June 9, 2017

American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship

Scholarships for Native American students attending non-tribal colleges.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: May 31

American Indian College Fund TCU Scholarship

Scholarships for Native American students attending a tribal college.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Deadline is decided by your college

Blacks at Microsoft Scholarships

Scholarships for students of African descent who have a passion for technology and plan to pursue a degree in engineering, computer science, or select business programs.

  • Amount: $5,000 (renewable)
  • Deadline: April 15

Fontana Transport Scholars Program

Scholarships for low-income underrepresented and first-generation college prospects who are passionate about furthering their education as a means to help their family, community and themselves.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: March 15

HSF Scholarship

Scholarships for students of Hispanic heritage.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: April 6

CBC Spouses Education Scholarship

Scholarship for African-American students with leadership ability and a desire to participate in community service.

  • Amount: Up to $8,200
  • Deadline: May 1

Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship

Scholarship for Asian-American students interested in pursuing a career in entrepreneurship.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: May 15

Walmart Foundation First-Generation Scholarship Program

Scholarship for first-generation college students attending one of 47 publicly supported HBCUs.

  • Amount: Up to $6,200
  • Deadline: June 4

Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards

Scholarships for Hispanic youth who demonstrate leadership and dedication to service in their communities.

  • Amount: Up to $3,000
  • Deadline: October 2

Scholarships for LGBT Students

Out to Innovate Scholarships

Scholarships for LGBTQ students interested in pursuing a STEM career.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: June 2

League Foundation LGBTQ Scholarships

Scholarships for graduating seniors with special consideration given to those with activities and leadership roles relating to LGBTQ communities.

  • Amount: Up to $2,500
  • Deadline: April 30

Out to Protect Scholarship

Scholarships for LGBT students who are currently enrolled in a basic law enforcement training program.

  • Amount: Up to $1,000
  • Deadline: May 26

Pedro Zamora Public Policy Fellowship

Scholarship for students and young professionals seeking experience in HIV-related public policy and government affairs.

  • Amount: $4,000 ($1,000/month stipend paid over the four-month fellowship)
  • Deadline: July 15

Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Foundation Scholarship

Financial assistance to students who express activism in the Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT communities.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: June 30

LGBT Liberation Scholarship

Scholarships honoring students who have done impactful activism work to improve or inspire the lives of LGBTQ people and the LGBTQ community.

  • Amount: Up to $1,500
  • Deadline: June 30

American Atheists Gay/Lesbian College Scholarship

Scholarships for LGBT students who combine activism for gay rights with activism for the rights of atheists

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: February 1

Bill Caspare Memorial Fund Diversity Scholarship

Scholarships for LGBTQ students interested in careers in new media, digital advertising, or data science. Also open to African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, and Native American students.

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Deadline: July 14

NGPA Pilot Scholarship

Scholarships for aspiring aviators that support, or are members of, the LGBT community. Scholarship to be used for advanced flight training.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: August 1

Military Family Scholarships

ThanksUSA Scholarship Program

Scholarships for dependents and spouses of military personnel.

  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: May 15

Scholarships for Military Children Program

Scholarships for children of an active duty, reserve/guard, or retired military commissary customers.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: February 12

American Legion Legacy Scholarship

Support the children of fallen post-9/11 service members and/or children of post-9/11 veterans with a disability of 50% or higher.

  • Amount: Up to $20,000
  • Deadline: April 20

Samsung American Legion Scholarship

Available to high school juniors who attend an American Legion state program and are a direct descendent of a wartime veteran who was on active duty during one of the periods of war.

  • Amount: Up to $20,000
  • Deadline: Varies

Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund

Must be a dependent of a military service member who has been disabled, killed in action, or is a prisoner of war.

  • Amount: Varies based on need; average award will be a “significant portion of the student’s tuition”
  • Deadline: July 31

The Military Commanders’ Scholarship Fund

Must be a dependent of activity duty, reserve/guard, or retired service members.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: November 2017

Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship

Scholarships for women who have served in the Army or are the child of a woman who has served.

  • Amount: Up to $2,500
  • Deadline: January 15

The OpLove Scholarship

Scholarships for currently active, honorably discharged, or retired military members, and their spouses and children.

  • Amount: $300
  • Deadline: July 15

Francis P Matthews and John E Swift Educational Trust Scholarships

Scholars for children of a member of the Knights of Columbus who was killed while serving in the military, or a police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty. Recipient must attend a Catholic college.

  • Amount: Up to $25,000
  • Deadline: March 1

70th Infantry Division Association Scholarship

Scholarship for the relatives and spouses of those who have served, or are currently serving, under the colors of the 70th Infantry Division.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: August 30

Scholarships for Students with Community Service Experience

Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship

Scholarship for young volunteers who have dedicated 100+ hours to serving veterans.

  • Amount: Up to $20,000
  • Deadline: February 29

Bruce Lee Foundation Scholarship

Scholarships for students who understand, appreciate and exemplify Bruce Lee’s passion for education, and play an active role in their community.

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Deadline: June 9

Youth Forward Scholarship

Scholarships for students who write an essay describing their commitment to volunteering.

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: August 1

Ajia Matthews Educational Scholarship Fund

Intense training schedules. Pressure to win and be the best. Painful injuries. Given all these factors, it’s not surprising that some athletes simply burn out on their sport. But what is shocking to many in the field are the young ages at which this is increasingly happening -- sometimes as early as 9 or 10.

The scenario often goes something like this: Eager to nurture the next A-Rod or Michelle Kwan, parents enroll their 5- or 6-year-olds in a competitive sports league or program. Over the next few years, training intensifies and expands to the off-season, making practice essentially year-round. Youngsters may join more than one league or a traveling team. They may have to sacrifice other interests and give up most of the down time that allows them to just be kids.

Soon the stakes get higher because many parents and coaches play to win. Winning means recognition and that could lead to lucrative opportunities -– high school championships then college scholarships and perhaps a shot at the pros.

“Kids sports have become much more competitive,” says Dr. Jordan Metzl, medical director of the Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“And in general, high-level competition for young kids is not a great thing,” says Metzl, co-author of “The Young Athlete: A Sports Doctor’s Complete Guide for Parents.”

With more kids than ever in organized sports, an estimated 30 million of them up through high school, Metzl and other experts in sports medicine and youth athletics say they are increasingly concerned about the pressures put on some children to excel. Not only are these youngsters at risk for emotional burnout, they may also develop injuries that plague them for a lifetime. Some will turn to steroids or other performance-enhancing substances to try to gain an edge. And some may give up on sports -– and exercise -- altogether.

'It's not fun anymore'
Kids with a strong internal drive may thrive on the competition. But the pressure can be too much for others, particularly grade-schoolers who aren't as equipped to deal with the stress as older athletes.

And the goals of sports for young kids can differ dramatically from those of their parents and coaches, says youth fitness researcher Avery Faigenbaum, an associate professor of exercise science at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

“Most children would rather play on a losing team than sit on the bench of a winning team,” he says.

When Faigenbaum asks kids who've quit why they're no longer interested in sports, their typical response: "It's not fun anymore." They wanted to have a good time, make friends and learn something new, he says. But make the game all about hard-core training and the final score, and many kids will sideline themselves.

“They’re getting turned off of sports at a young age -– and that’s a sad tale,” says Faigenbaum.

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There’s ample evidence that sports participation can have important benefits for kids, including improved physical health and emotional well-being. Hopefully, they’ll also learn life lessons in teamwork, discipline, leadership and time management. But kids can't profit from these benefits if they're quitting sports early on.

A new ball game
While parents may have spent much of their early childhoods riding bikes around the neighborhood, playing pick-up games of baseball or basketball with the local kids and maybe joining Little League, today’s youngsters often fall into two disparate groups: those who sit inside playing video games and those who participate in organized competitive sports like soccer, ice hockey and basketball.

A big difference today is that kids involved in sports play harder and younger than ever, says Steve Marshall, an assistant professor of epidemiology and orthopedics at the Injury Prevention Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And with dreams of college scholarships and multi-million dollar professional contracts, the competition can get out of hand, he says.

“Youth sports have become about more than kids having fun," says Marshall. "Frankly it’s beginning to get out of control. It’s almost a national obsession.”

Certainly coaches who treat young athletes like military recruits can be a big problem. So can athletes who take the game too seriously and play when they’re injured or, as they enter the teen years, turn to performance-enhancing substances that they hear of their idols in the big leagues using.

Parents the prime culprits
But experts in the field mostly point to parents as the prime culprits in promoting a competition-crazed environment in youth sports.

"Parents tend to think everyone’s going to the Olympics,” says Patrick Mediate, a physical education teacher and coordinator of the strength and conditioning program at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Conn.

Of course, many parents are a positive force, supporting their children and making sports participation possible by taking the time to drive kids to and from practice and games. But parents who live vicariously through their children can be problematic, experts say. It's one thing for kids to dream of Olympic gold medals or Super Bowl rings and to work toward those goals. But it's another matter if parents are pushing their kids to do something they don't want or pressuring them to succeed in a way that’s hurtful.

Marilyn Enmark, a youth soccer coach in Detroit, says she’s seen her share of overbearing parents.

Recently, one of her players, a 7-year-old boy, hit the boards during an indoor game and was holding his head. His father, a former soccer player himself, went over to the boy but rather than asking him how he was feeling, scolded him for playing poorly. A week later, his mother called him over after a play and she, too, sharply criticized him. “He was sobbing,” Enmark says.

Parents -- and coaches -- who push too hard too young, particularly when they emphasize winning above all else, can easily wipe out a child’s motivation to play, says Dr. Henry Goitz, chief of sports medicine at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo.

“They may be preventing the next Michael Jordan from coming to be,” says Goitz, a team physician for the Toledo high schools and a former team doctor for the Detroit Lions. “They can take the heart out of a kid.”

But not all pushing is bad, says Michael Bergeron, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. He acknowledges, however, that there's no good answer on where to draw the line.

“You need to know your child,” he says. If kids truly hate a sport, then let them quit. But maybe they just need some encouragement. Some 19- or 20-year-olds may wish their parents had pushed them more to stick with sports when they were younger rather than giving up, he adds.

Injury toll
Aside from the psychological pressures that young athletes may experience from intense training and competition, physical complaints are a growing concern, sports medicine specialists say.

One of the most comprehensive surveys to date, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that from 1997 to 1999 sports and recreation-related injuries were more common nationwide than injuries from traffic accidents. Americans ages 5 to 24 were most likely to be treated for sports-related injuries by health professionals. Kids 5 to 14 had the highest injury rates of all -– 59.3 episodes per 1,000 people. That’s slightly higher than the rate for people 15 to 24 (56.4 per 1,000) but substantially greater than the rates for those 25 to 44 (21 per 1,000) and 45 and up (6.2 per 1,000).

A fifth of kids lost one or more school days a year because of their complaints. Strains and sprains accounted for the most injuries overall, followed by fractures. Among kids 5 to 14, bicycling was associated with the most injuries, followed by basketball, football, playground equipment and baseball or softball. In those 15 to 24, basketball and football were linked to the most injuries.

Greater sports participation, particularly among girls in recent decades, is one reason injuries appear to be rising, experts say. A study published last September in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that over the last 30 years in the area around Rochester, Minn., forearm fractures, many of them resulting from sports and recreation activities, increased 56 percent in girls and 32 percent in boys, mostly among kids in the preteen and early teen years. Also on the rise are knee injuries known as anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tears that are more likely to affect girls, often those who play basketball or soccer.

Another factor that contributes to sports injuries is the couch-potato culture where kids lounge around all summer watching TV, for instance, and then jump into a sport in the fall when they’re woefully out of shape. “The musculoskeletal systems of boys and girls may not be prepared for sports,” says Faigenbaum. “They’re an absolute set-up for injury.”

On the flip side, too much training can lead to overuse injuries such as "Little League elbow," which results from repetitive throws, and stress fractures.

Metzl diagnosed a pelvic stress fracture in one 9-year-old girl who had been playing soccer two to three hours a day, five to six days a week. But in kids like her, diet could also be a contributing factor. Too much soda and not enough milk can weaken bones. So he now orders bone density tests on young athletes with curious stress fractures and tracks the kids over time.

Early specialization questioned
A big issue, many experts in the field say, is the push for kids to specialize in a single sport very early in life –- well before puberty.

“This has backfired in our faces,” Faigenbaum says. “It truly doesn’t work.”

Kids may hone certain skills in a particular sport with early, intense specialization, but they can also burn out emotionally and physically. And they may not necessarily be achieving the goal they or their parents hoped for -- becoming the best athlete they can be in that sport, he notes.

“When you play different sports, you use a variety of motor skills -– jumping, running, twisting –- that can transfer to a lot of sports,” Faigenbaum says. But if young kids focus on just one sport, they may not reap these benefits.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that says that if a [child] athlete plays just one sport that will guarantee success as a teen or adult,” he says, adding there’s actually more evidence that if they diversify they’ll play better. Ask most pro athletes what they were doing at age 10, he says, and most will say they were playing two to three sports, not just one.

Focusing on a single activity also puts all of a young athlete's eggs in one basket, says Metzl. If kids don’t try other sports, how do they know whether or not they might like those sports more -- or be better at them?

And even top-notch athletes can tire of their sport because of what it takes to win. At Greenwich High School, the boys' swim team program has been hugely successful, losing only one meet in the last 25 years. But just a handful of the athletes have gone on to swim in college, says Mediate.

“They have double practice sessions -- morning and night –- almost every day for 10 years,” he says. “So it does add up. It’s burnout.”

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