Let the kid be an athlete

Article Image Alt Text

We oftentimes get too wrapped up in the good or the bad in sports. Especially when it’s your hometown team or favorite athlete, things can easily be blown out of proportion, whether it’s a winning streak or an injury.
Austin Allen, arguably Nebraska’s most famous high school athlete right now, suffered a setback to his athletic career over a week ago, tearing his meniscus in the right knee, an injury that required surgery in Lincoln Thursday night.
For those of you I just broke the news to, Allen hurt his knee coming down for a rebound in a Aurora team camp basketball game against Beatrice.
I’ve had multiple conversations through text with Allen over the past week or so, and he said the surgery patched him up just fine. We still aren’t sure the exact amount of time he’ll spend on the shelf, but one has to be optimistic because of the severity and how much worse it could’ve been. Will he be able to compete this year on the gridiron? We’ll all have to wait and see.
Without beating around the bush, the main focus of this piece is this -- Allen’s injury came in the summer, during a basketball camp. We all know that Allen is a 2017 Nebraska football commit and it could be argued he’s hurting his future by playing basketball. If that’s the way you feel, slow your roll. Let me tell you why you’re dead wrong.
Chew on this stat from this year’s first round of the NFL draft. Of the 31 first-round picks, 28 of them were multi-sport athletes in high school. Twelve of those 28 were in fact three-sport athletes.
According to medical experts, taking part in a variety of activities -- whether structured or not -- leads to greater skill and muscle development.
I asked Jordan Stithem, athletic trainer for CHI Health -- St. Elizabeth/Nebraska Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Outreach his thoughts on being a multi-sport competitor.
He said one of the biggest benefits is the overall versatility it can give you. Learning different specifics in one sport can help an athlete overall. What you do in football can help on the basketball court. Some of the best offensive lineman get that way because of wrestling training.
Focusing on one sport leads to doing the same thing over and over again. Doing repetitive movements time after time leads to overuse injuries that could result in long-term injuries that can severely hinder performance.
Stithem mentioned Tiger Woods. He’s been swinging golf clubs since the tender age of 2. It was truly amazing to see him play and dominate throughout his prime years. But look at him now. When was the last time he was even on the course? He can’t even swing a club now without twisting his back into a question mark.
Think about it for a second. The injury Allen suffered is really just a freak thing.
Could it have been building over time? Yes. Is that a for-sure thing? No.
Injuries are so unpredictable. This could’ve happened to anyone. It just so happened to bite one of Aurora’s finest young men and athletes.
He could’ve gotten hurt doing anything. Would there be more or less complaints if this injury happened during a football practice?
It’s not fair to him to demand that he gives up everything for football. I guarantee not even Husker coach Mike Riley wants him to do that.
If anything, Allen now has the summer to rest, recuperate and get ready for one more year as a Husky. Don’t punish the kid for doing what he wants to do. He’s not a football player and he’s not a basketball player. He’s an athlete.
Let him be one.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (9 votes)