There’s been a lot made in the last several years about steroid use in sports, and how athletes who take shortcuts — particularly the moody black ones — are setting a bad example for the youth of today. The argument is that if kids see their role models — defined in the dictionary of John and Jane Mediocreparent as every single professional athlete ever, since young people are too naive to differentiate between players they like and dislike — using performance-enhancing drugs, they’ll be like, “Gosh darn it, I could be a pretty swell player too… If I took illegal drugs!”
You can see the obvious dilemma here. But don’t take it from me. Let’s get a parent’s view on this, courtesy of the level-headed co-host of the possibly doomed Mike and the Mad Dog radio show and father of four, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo:
Unnerving as his method may have been, I think the Mad Dog got his point across.
The argument is clear: kids are incapable of thinking for themselves. Monkey see, monkey do, as the cliché — a phrase that has lost most of its meaning because one person heard it, thought the person who originally said it sounded clever, and thus repeated it in a similar situation to another individual, simultaneously continuing the cycle and taking a shortcut rather than working hard to create a better analogy — goes. The impressionable youth of America will see the chiseled physique of, say, Eric Gagne (look at that vein!), and immediately surf onto the World Wide Internet and have the sexual predators they frequently instant message with on the AOL order them some steroids from the online steroid page.
Or so it may have seemed.
But, if we are to stretch the findings of a recent study conducted by a University of Wisconsin – Whitewater professor to the alleged rudimentary thought processes of youngsters, it turns out that a league filled with portly types might provide better cheater’s inspiration. That’s because university health and physical education professor Ann Wertz Garvin has discovered that looking at pictures of unrealistic body types achieved through a combination of chemistry, hard work, fake tanning and Photoshop actually serve to discourage Joe Sixpack Flabbo.
Though it might seem like an obvious choice while exercising, reading fitness magazines full of images of six-pack abs, super-sculpted arms and rock-hard thighs may undo one of the benefits of exercise, according to new research.
“The post-exercise feel-good [effect] that we usually see was pretty much wiped out when people were looking at the magazines with ultra-fit images in them,” says study author Ann Wertz Garvin, a professor of health and physical education at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater.
“I’ll never look like that!” (pouts, guzzles Velveeta)
Better choices? Essentially anything else, she says: National Geographic, Oprah, even Horse & Rider.
“I’ll never look like that, either!” (points, laughs at the emaciated, fat, equine and generally miniature)
Results, which were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, showed that the group of women who read Oxygen while exercising were more anxious, depressed and in an all-around poorer mood after exercise than before, as determined by standardized psychological scales. By comparison, the groups of women who read Oprah or no magazine experienced expected improvements in their mood from exercise.
Garvin says her team has also looked at this issue in men and preliminary data show that exercising guys, too, may be affected negatively by muscle magazines, but mainly by promoting anxiety not depression.
And there you have it. It’s not the millionaires on the diamond or the football field that are inspiring our country’s youth to strive for unnatural physiques. It’s the millionaire who rewards undeserving people with cars just for sitting through her show. Her magazine is not so much a general-interest publication as it is an on-the-DL pamphlet for taking shortcuts and flat out cheating. And nobody seems to have any qualms about her rapidly-expanding empire.
Now who’s naive?