Mark Hyman is a Baltimore-based journalist and author who writes often about the business of sports, sports and law and about the role of adults in youth sports. He is the author of Until it Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids, and blogs at Youth Sports Parents.
Wednesday's New York Times ran my article on DVDs and group classes that introduce babies and toddlers to sports. A lot of reaction - pro and con - on the Times Web site. Last time I looked, 105 comments.
Each company cited in the article - and the entrepreneurs behind them - seems to be coming from a slightly different perspective. Doreen Bolhuis, who created the Gymtrix exercise videos, believes that babies truly can improve coordination by working out. She's quoted in the article on this point and during my interview with her spoke about it at length, telling me, “We sell babies short because they can’t speak yet. But they’re all about learning how their bodies work and about movement patterns. When we guide them they learn so much more quickly than if we leave it to chance and hope they’ll figure it out."
Other company executives quoted in the story cited different reasons for getting really, really young ones started in sports - fighting childhood obesity, getting them in the habit of being active and teaching the basics of games they may pick up later.
How many parents are buying videos and signing up for classes hoping to turn their babies and toddlers into superstars later on is impossible to say. Clearly some companies are appealing to that instinct, subtly or otherwise.
I had a small role in putting together this video which ran with the article on the Times site. It's worth a look.