LeBron James is making headlines for critical comments he made regarding AAU basketball and certain people within the culture.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Bron said:
“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know [that] … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f- - -,” James said. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through.”
AAU culture is often a lighting rod for criticism with what ails youth sports.
The NCAA, not exactly a beacon of light, often chides AAU as the corrupt underbelly ruining the sanctity of amateur athletics.
What Bron is saying has merit as it relates to the health of athletes and as load management in the NBA is debated ad nauseum.
The human body, despite what we witness by some of the world’s greatest athletes, was not designed to do these things. The amount of torque and pressure placed on the various joints, tendons and ligaments take their toll.
The younger an athlete starts putting that kind of pressure on their body, with heavy repetition, without the proper recovery can be problematic.
“I think [AAU] has something to do with it, for sure,” James said. “It was a few tournaments where my kids — Bronny and Bryce — had five games in one day and that’s just f- - -ing out of control. That’s just too much. And there was a case study where I read a report. I don’t know who wrote it not too long ago, and it was talking about the causes and [kid’s] bodies already being broken down and they [attributed] it to AAU basketball and how many games that these tournaments are having for the [financial benefit]. So, I’m very conscious for my own son because that’s all I can control, and if my son says he’s sore or he’s tired, he’s not playing.”
He went on saying, “Because a lot of these tournaments don’t have the best interest of these kids, man. I see it. It’s like one time, they had to play a quarterfinal game, a semifinal game and a championship game starting at 9 a.m., and the championship game was at 12:30 p.m. Three games. I was like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ And my kids were dead tired. My kids were dead tired. This isn’t right. This is an issue.”
Bron is right, this is an issue. Parents and guardians need to make sure they are educated on what’s going on with their children and use common sense. Teach kids how to listen to their bodies.
Part of the problem is sports’ inherent “tough” and “macho” culture.
Instilling a work ethic and teaching athletes how to “push through” things is extremely important. But again, it needs to be done intelligently and not haphazardly.
“You know that old saying. It’s like, ‘Boy, you ain’t tired. What you tired for? You're only 12 years old. You don’t even know what it means to be tired.’ Nah, that’s bulls--t. Those kids are tired,” James said.
As we evolve and realize the benefits of certain things and detriment of others, it’s time to take a look at how athletes are prepared physically for optimal success.
(Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)