Many high school athletes dream of playing at the next level, which will hopefully lead to the level beyond that. They want to be on a college team, so that the pros can be a more attainable goal. For this to happen, they must stand out among the rest. They must offer a package more desirable than anyone else’s. Football players, for example, must have speed and agility on the field. If they throw, they must do so with direction and accuracy. If they are meant to tackle, run, catch or kick, they must fill each role with the necessary skill. And they must be the appropriate size.
Professional football players tend to weigh in just below sumo. They are big, hulking masses, tearing up the field and knocking down opponents with mass-induced force. As a result, the aspiring high school athletes pack on the pounds, attempting to mirror their idols. But they do so unhealthily. They turn to food for the needed weight, shoveling in mountains of carbohydrates and fried protein. They take “bigger” to an extreme, reaching a weight well over 300 pounds, even when they are less than six feet tall. Today, forty-five percent of high school football players are overweight. Nine percent are severely obese, by adult standards. They are all at an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease. They are essentially killing themselves in an attempt to achieve a dream that will only happen for six percent.
We must stop pressuring sports players to the extent that they feel it is necessary to overload their bodies with fat. While bigger may be desirable for certain positions, it is never appropriate when taken to an extreme. If a high school student really wants to add mass to his frame, he should add muscle. Strength training not power eating should be the method of choice. Otherwise, he will become sloppily overweight, which is far different from fit. He won’t be able to play to the degree that his pro-like size implies, and his dreams will have been devoured along with his health.