The value of a ‘pick-up’ game

There aren’t many pick-up baseball, football, or basketball games going on anymore. On a given mid-summer day, for example, most baseball diamonds at the local park are unused. Sports are scheduled for kids now and they must be organized. It might be killing you, Smalls.

There’s some evidence today that there’s a physical price to be paid for that. reports on the initial findings — suggestions, really — that athletes who play pick-up games in addition to their organized sports, are less likely to be injured.

The injured athletes who played only tennis spent 12.6 hours a week playing the game in a structured setting and only 2.4 hours in free play. The uninjured players spent about 9.7 hours a week playing tennis and 4.3 hours pursuing recreational sports. The injured players spent five times as much time playing organized tennis as they did playing for fun, while uninjured players spent only 2.6 times more time. A similar ratio was found when comparing injured tennis players with uninjured athletes who play many different sports: Injured tennis players spent 5.3 times as much time playing tennis as anything recreational, and the injured multi-sport athlete only spent 1.9 times as much time in organized sports vs. recreational sports.