It is not a new thing for sport clubs and coaches to favour younger players with tons of potential to be in their teams to prepare for the future. However, with the ongoing trend of teams commonly in favour of selecting players under 23 years old, are athletes in sports getting younger?
The common reasoning why different sport coaches choose to select younger athletes in their team are simple; they are young. Their bodies are growing, they are faster, stronger and if given playing time, they have the potential to be a great player for the team. It also gives teams a strong foundation for the future. Teams with older players around their thirties tend to be less fast, and agile giving an advantage to younger teams. They also tend to run out of stamina quicker. Let’s look at some sports with some of the youngest athletes.
Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it is not a surprise that they also adopt the mindset of nurturing younger players. In the world of football, players are getting younger and younger with some of the best players in the world being under 23 years old. Over the weekend, Ethan Nwaneri, an exciting football prospect, was subbed on in added time for Arsenal. This makes him the youngest player in Premier League history at 15 years, 184 days. He is still in school yet is playing in top-flight English football at just 15 years old.
In every football league in the world, there are many players under 20 years old already playing for the first team and some are even already considered the best in the world such as Bellingham or Pedri.
This can also be said the same for basketball as there are reports that Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, has said that they are dropping the age limit from 19 to 18 in the league’s next collective bargaining agreement. Silver emphasises this by saying ‘”It may be the case that it’s in all of our interests that we start impacting with these young players, especially because in our sport they are identified at such a young age.” This means that we will be seeing younger players getting drafted to the NBA.
Another sport that relies on young talent is Rugby. Since Rugby is one of the most physical contact sports, it is important to be fast, strong, agile and have good balance. Schoolboy rugby is a good way for young players to play for their schools and show Rugby scouts their ability to play. A few notable names are Payton Spencer and Xavier Tito-Harris in New Zealand and Jurenzo Julius in South Africa. As the sports grows larger in popularity, more Rugby superstars will be found.
Athletes in sports are getting younger, however this does not necessarily mean that it is bad. It gives more young excelling athletes a chance to gain experience and get a head start on their career. In the right environment surrounded by good influences many young talents around the world will prosper in their sport.