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Drew Henson Lesson #1: Diversify or Specialize?

In this summer’s Sports Illustrated “Where Are They Now?” edition, Drew Henson was featured.

Unless you’re a huge sport fan or lived in Michigan 15 years ago, I’m betting you don’t know who Drew Henson is.

Henson was a huge two-sport star. In high school, he threw 52 touchdown passes and hit 70 home runs.

And that was the problem. When you’re exceptionally interested in and talented at two things, which one do you choose? Wait a minute; should you choose? Do you have to choose?

At first, Henson chose baseball. He signed with the Yankees. But when he didn’t have the kind of success he expected, he switched to football. He played briefly for Dallas, Minnesota and Detroit, but was ultimately waived out of the NFL.

Based on the standard definition of professional sports success, Henson was a failure at both a baseball and football.

And maybe he was. Never mind that he made several million dollars and got to try two fantasy careers. As Sports Illustrated writer Pete Thamel put it, “He’ll never know the answer to the million dollar question: ‘What if he’d dedicated the raw talent in his 6’5”, 220 pound body to just one game?’ ”

What if?

Should we eliminate all but one primary professional interest and specialize? Is so, when? High School? College? By the time we’re 25? 30? 50? Ever?

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