Noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews wants to convince parents that pushing their children into year-round sports can be dangerous to the youngsters' health.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- James Andrews has seen enough.
Enough of coaches who mean well and try hard, but who really don't know what they need to know.
Enough of parents who think their son or daughter is the next superstar athlete and must be pushed and pushed and pushed.
Enough of youngsters who are forced to visit him and his colleagues around the nation.
Andrews has become so alarmed that he is issuing written and verbal warnings to anyone willing to read or listen. Why should the public care what Andrews thinks? Because when the "Dr." is placed in front of his name, he becomes a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon.
Andrews, who has practiced medicine for nearly 40 years, is most famous for his ability to put professional athletes back together. These athletes -- notably, a who's who of quarterbacks -- have signed contracts for a combined total well north of $1 billion after his surgeries. In 2010, Andrews was the only doctor to be named among the top 40 most powerful people in the NFL by Sports Illustrated.
Andrews' specialties are knees, elbows and shoulders. One of his recent patients was Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who needed the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament repaired in his right knee.
The work on athletes, while important, isn't the reason Andrews collaborated with Don Yaeger, a former associate editor at Sports Illustrated, to write, "Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, for Athletes, Parents and Coaches -- Based on My Life in Sports Medicine." He felt compelled to write the book, then talk about it, out of fear for the younger generation.
"I started seeing a sharp increase in youth sports injuries, particularly baseball, beginning around 2000," Andrews told The Plain Dealer in a telephone interview. "I started tracking and researching, and what we've seen is a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board. I'm trying to help these kids, given the epidemic of injuries that we're seeing. That's sort of my mission: to keep them on the playing field and out of the operating room.
"I hate to see the kids that we used to not see get hurt. ... Now they're coming in with adult, mature-type sports injuries. It's a real mess. Maybe this book will help make a dent."
"I want parents and coaches to realize the implications of putting a 12- or 13-year-old through the type of athletic work done by a 25-year-old," says Dr. James Andrews. AP file