I often find it interesting that I view the world so differently now that I’ve been a personal trainer. Like really noticing fat people. Recently I went to a Yankees game and realized how many severely overweight people were in the Stadium. I used to go to games all the time and never noticed the parallel between sports obsession and obesity. Face it, we are an envious, self-deprecating, celebrity-obsessed society that is more about watching the best than being the best. Sometimes it feels that “fan-dom” is a celebration of being average; of being one of millions who support the team, but don’t have the skill, drive and passion to do anything at that same level. I say this understanding that the average fan is a team’s target consumer. The team’s goal is to obviously draw fans away from the things that make them feel elite and pull them into things that make them feel indulgent.
They’re all things that cause us to make exceptions for our behavior, whether positive or negative. They’re all associated with sports and they’re all things we like about viewing sports. Sports are also better packaged for television now, so that means more sports fans in bars, more sports fans sitting and lying on couches, and too many (east coast!) sports fans in bedrooms, eating in bed as they watch Kobe light up Portland in the late game. What does it mean? Fueling the American obesity problem by marketing to the unhealthy, exploiting their weaknesses for unhealthy things, and making it so that the average fan could NEVER associate with their favorite athlete as a person.
Sports are an amazing parallel for life. Seeing life the way athletes see competition is a way to apply the same focus, effort, and pride to our lives that highly-paid athletes do to theirs. Athletes aren’t simply role models for children whose parents are too lazy to properly raise them, they can be role models for us all. Not all role models are positive though, so adults with adult reasoning can take the negative and positive for what they are: learning experiences.
Our society though is full of adults who admire athletes, pay their salaries with ticket sales, stadium concessions and merchandise sales, but do so as a means of leisure. It seems that we would rather use the image of the fit, disciplined, conditioned athlete to justify excessive eating and drinking than to explore these practices for ourselves so we can know why professionals are so amazing. What we get is a society of fat people with insane expectations of professional athletes who share none of their talents or drive. How can you follow sports intelligently and evaluate athletes moving dynamically if you refuse to even move?
Activity is not simply for individuals who want to look better, it’s just that active individuals look better to everyone. Individuals who watch sports should do their best to also PLAY sports. First, it will help them to properly appreciate athletes’ skill. Second, it will be a healthy way to release the competitive spirit they want to release by drinking and overeating in packs. Third, it allows them to actually draw parallels between themselves and their favorite athletes, maybe helping them think twice before they contribute to a team’s revenue and an athlete’s salary.
And no, they don’t need wider seats at the ballpark…