Young players taking over modern sports


All sports change and evolve through time. In many professional sports, younger generations of players seem to be taking over and leading at their level of play. In the past, younger players have been outshined by those who have already been playing for quite a while. However, the tables have turned throughout recent years, as young people in every sport are excelling.

In the National Hockey League (NHL), with a solid new generation of talent, some of the newest players in the league are some of the best. For example, Cale Makar, a 24-year-old defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche, has proved himself to be one of, if not the best, defenseman in the league due to his incredible knack for scoring, producing offense and putting up very impressive stats. He is quickly becoming a face of the league and is even being compared to all-time greats such as Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey. Another great example of a young star in the NHL is Jason Robertson. At only 23 years old, Robertson is one of the top leaders in goals and points in the current NHL season. The best example of a young player taking over the NHL, or any sport for that matter, is Connor McDavid. Since his rookie season in 2015, McDavid has been a powerhouse in the league. For the past six seasons in the NHL, he has been at least top two in points every year, as well as currently leading the league in points this season. McDavid has proved that he is currently the best player in the league, at only 25 years old. At this rate, he is likely to go down as one of the best players in the history of the NHL and the sport of hockey itself.

“I think the new generation of talent in the NHL is abundant and they are showing a lot of promise. Of course, I think you still need a veteran presence on the team, but these young guys are truly showing they can hang with the best,”  senior Luke Snavely said.

There have also been many players of a younger age performing at all-star levels in other sports, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL). Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA has become one of the best players in the league at the youthful age of 23 years old. Dončić is already breaking records set by NBA Hall of Famers, and is currently leading the league this season in points per game. In the NFL, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, Joe Burrow, has shown that young guys can compete just as well, if not better than, more experienced veterans. In just his third season in the league, Burrow led his team to the Super Bowl finals. Even though they came up short, Burrow’s performance has proved that players of a lesser age and experience are able to do great things in professional sports.

Younger players that are not yet old enough to play professionally are even taking over their sports. Many prospects are showing their readiness to compete and dominate at the next level. Perhaps the most exciting example of this is Connor Bedard, who plays for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Bedard, at only 16 years of age, was top five in points in the WHL during the 2021-22 season. This season, now 17 years old, he is currently leading the league in points. This feat is even more incredible due to the fact that this is being done against players up to 20 years old. Bedard’s talent became even more recognized when he competed in the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship, otherwise known as the World Juniors, where he represented his home country of Canada. The World Juniors is an annual tournament where the best players from each country under the age of 20 compete to win for their hometown. During this tournament, Bedard had 23 points in seven games, leading his team to a gold medal. These points were the most ever recorded by a Canadian player in this tournament. As a 17-year-old, he broke records set by some of the greatest hockey players of all time. Bedard is one of the most anticipated players in NHL history.

Many cases of young players excelling in sports have even been seen locally at Freedom High School. Sophomore Jordan Delon led the boy’s soccer team in scoring during the 2022 season. Another example is freshman Garret Drutarosky. Drutarosky was the starting kicker for the Freedom Bulldogs Varsity Football team during the 2022 season, which is a tough position to fill for such a young player. These players have shown how important underclassmen and young players are to high school sports and sports in general.