Son of legendary pitcher concerned about rise of injuries in youth sports

Posted at 6:05 PM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 21:05:26-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Dr. Tommy John III, the son of the famous major league pitcher, has a new book designed to help parents with children who play youth sports. Titled "Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance: A Sports Parent's Survival Guide" aims to aid parents navigate the growing youth sports industry.

"You've got to understand where the youth sports industry is coming from," John told 10News during an interview at his Sorrento Valley office. "Most of it's going to be money driven. They want your money at the expense of your child's health."

John believes too many kids are being pushed in ways counter-productive to keeping them healthy. He recommends having young athletes grow up playing a variety of sports, instead of specializing in just one. That puts his opinions at odds with many inside the industry, who encourage their families to specialize in a sport, play it year-round, and sign up for expensive private lessons and club teams.

"The decisions you're making for your child are affecting their livelihoods forever. They're having to rehab from their childhoods."

John's father, Tommy John Jr., pitched 26 years in the major leagues. Along with his all star career, John is known for the surgery which bears his name. After suffering what until then had been a career-ending injury, John underwent an experimental surgery, replacing a torn ligament in his pitching arm.

Dr. John says he and his father are worried that the surgery, which used to be needed just by professionals, is now commonly performed on teenagers and even younger children.

"It does sound kind of ironic: Tommy John and Tommy John trying to put a stop to Tommy John."