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Size Matters

Size Matters

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Published by Jude Ellery
Size Matters -- originally appearing in Man and Ball Issue One
Size Matters -- originally appearing in Man and Ball Issue One

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Published by: Jude Ellery on Oct 07, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Fair warning: this debate has noth-ing to do with the fairer sex. OK,now that I've lost ninety percent of my audience with the first sentence,let me explain to the rest of you thatwhat it does concern is the sporngworld's predilecon with size.None of them coming back, then?Bugger.Our fascinaon with BIG is having amajor impact on sport. Unfortu-nately, that impact may prove dam-aging in the long run.It is already wreaking havoc inAmerica. All four of the major team
Illustration:GANT POWELL >
sports on the other side of the At-lanc, those being baseball, basket-ball, gridiron football and ice hockey,are afflicted with serious dilemmasstemming directly from the increasein the size, strength and speed of their athletes over the last twodecades.Two important factors have gangedup to lead American (and Canadian)sport down a blind alley.
One pill makes you larger
First, sports science, funded by theexponenal growth of sport as amarkeng tool, has made tremen-dous advances with regards to train-ing methods, nutrion, medicalprocedures and rehabilitaon. TheUSA's consistent haul of medals inthe Olympics bears this out. Wherewould Sugar Ray Leonard, MichaelPhelps, Carl Lewis and Mary LouReon be were it not for the ubiqui-tous Wheaes box? Lance Arm-strong owes much of his success tothe sponsorship of the US PostalService. Tiger Woods, who not onlyadvanced the cause of minories ingolf but in athlecs as a whole, issupported by his relaonship withNike, the same company which wel-comed Wayne Rooney to its Oregonsports complex, last fall, to rehabili-tate a persistent ankle injury.Elite athletes make most of theirmoney not from their sport of choice but from lucrave endorse-ments. Yet those markeng dollarsdepend upon performance. If you're at the top of your game, theworld will camp at your doorstep.Thus, health and fitness are actuallya higher priority than technical skillif an athlete is to maximise his or herearning potenal.It's such a priority, in fact, thatsports science has been used to cutcorners. Every major Americansport has suspended athletes forusing steroids or other performanceenhancing drugs.Surprisingly, baseball, which de-mands far more technical profi-ciency from its players than athlecability, has been hit the hardest.Hall of Fame candidates RogerClemens, Mark McGwire, SammySosa, Rafael Palmeiro and MannyRamirez have all had their legacythreatened by posive tests or seri-
ous allegaons of steroid use. Homerun king Barry Bonds was recentlyconvicted of obstrucng jusce (forrefusing to co-operate fully) whilebeing acquied of four counts of perjury for allegedly lying to prose-cutors invesgang the wide-reach-ing BALCO Labs scandal. Olympicathlete Marion Jones served me in jail aer being found guilty of similarcharges.All-Star third baseman Ken Caminiadmied to having used steroids forseveral seasons, beginning in 1996,and died shortly aer his rere-ment, overdosing on a cocktail of co-caine and opiates. Camini wasalleged to be suffering from severedepression, understandable whenyou have severely altered your bodychemistry for several years, hopingto prolong your career and the famewhich comes part and parcel, onlyfor it to all come crashing down be-fore you're prepared to move on.Gridiron football star Lyle Alzadodied of a malignantbrain tumor in 1992.He was forty-threeand had only beenrered from thegame for sevenyears. Although oth-ers denied his asser-ons, he claimedthat his condion was the direct re-sult of connued use of anabolicsteroids."I started taking anabolic steroids in1969 and never stopped. It was ad-dicng, mentally addicng. Now I'msick, and I'm scared. Ninety percentof the athletes I know are on thestuff. We're not born to be 300lb(140kg) or jump 30 (9.1m). But allthe me I was taking steroids, Iknew they were making me playbeer. I became veryviolent on the fieldand off it. I did thingsonly crazy people do.Once a guy side-swiped my car and Ibeat the hell out of him. Now look atme. My hair's gone, Iwobble when I walk and have tohold on to someone for support,and I have trouble rememberingthings. My last wish? That no oneelse ever dies this way."Given that it’s almost twenty years
Ninety percent of athletes I know areon the stuff. We’renot born to be300lb or jump 30 ft.

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