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Health And The Die-Hard Fan

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You'd be mad if they took forever with your beer, too.

You'd be mad if they took forever with your beer, too.

I was browsing the interwebz last night and came across this article posted on The Scores Report (great national sports blog, by the way). The article was entitled “Die-hard Sports fans are unhealthy“, and when I initially read the headline, I figured it was going to talk about how being a ‘die-hard’ fan can lead to massive heart attacks, a fate I hope to never experience, but understand as all too plausible being a Knick fan. One could also make the case that being a die-hard patron at a Raiders game isn’t the best decision for your health or well-being. It should never be that serious, folks.

But that wasn’t the case they were making. The article literally meant unhealthy; bad eating habits, terrible exercise patterns, eye-widening alcohol consumption, etc. They cited a 2008 email survey study, in which 515 students participated, at the University of Arkansas. It concluded:

… 26 percent of sports fans ate vegetables only one to three times a month, compared with 19.2 percent of non-sports fans, while 11.9 percent of sports fans have four or more drinks when they consume alcohol compared with 3.2 percent of non-sports fans. Additionally, 21 percent of fans almost always ate high-fat food compared with 13 percent of non-sports fans.

“The statistics we did report were statistically significant,” Sweeney said, “meaning the difference between the two groups wasn’t because of chance, it was because something was going on there.”

Sports fans had an average body-mass index of 27.4, while non sports fans were at 25.09. A BMI between 25-29.9 is considered overweight, while 30 or higher is considered obese.

“Body mass for the die-hards was getting closer to 30, which is obese and the non-sports fans was just above 25, which is still in the overweight range, but getting closer to normal,” Sweeney noted.


Snack before a meal.

Those are indeed troubling numbers. There is no doubt that the sports culture is not one that readily makes opportunities for eating healthily available to the average fan, much less a die-hard, who is always watching sports with friends and always attending games. I got a chance to visit Yankee Stadium last July and, I swear, the food court was easily the most complete I’ve seen. It had everything. I’m sure there was a salad spot somewhere in there, but there’s probably a man-law which barred me from visiting that corner of the court.

Having said that, I can’t see how this is exclusively a ‘die-hard’ fan’s issue, or even a sports issue for that matter. Face it, people, America as a whole eats unhealthily. This isn’t an anomaly exclusive to sports. You can easily find people that don’t like sports at all religiously frequenting a burger spot more often than an athlete hits the weight room. It’s American culture. From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Percent of noninstitutionalized adults age 20 years and over who are overweight or obese: 66%
  • Percent of noninstitutionalized adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 32%
  • Percent of adolescents age 12-19 years who are overweight: 17%
  • Percent of children age 6-11 years who are overweight: 19%

A whopping 2/3’s of adults 20 and over are overweight. One out of every 5 children aged 6-11 is overweight. There’s clearly a problem bigger than sports in this picture. You could probably do studies with various leisure activities and conclude the same thing the sports study did. Why? Because people who eat unhealthily like to watch sports, go to the movies, party, and whatever else people do for fun.

I’m definitely an unhealthy eater. Even though I’m not overweight, I rarely eat vegetables, and I love me a burger and some ribs with a side of grease. I just don’t believe it has much to do with the fact that I’m a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Jets fan. I think I’d probably eat unhealthy food regardless. Like I said before, the sports culture isn’t exactly the an environment conducive to healthy eating, but neither is the U.S. of A apparently.

What are some of your thoughts?

UPDATE: My homegirl told me about a story that, although unrelated to health or anything like that, is relevant to the concept of a ‘die-hard’ fan:

A woman came into the Tires Plus in Winona just before noon, asking if the shop had time to replace a belt.

Prusci started the paperwork.

“Oh, by the way,” the woman said. “I have a goat in my trunk.”

Prusci didn’t think he heard her right.

“A what?”

“Yes, a goat,” the woman said. “And it’s alive.”

She planned to butcher the animal later but was passing through Winona on her way to St. Paul when the car broke down, Prusci remembered her saying.

The woman, and a man and child who were waiting for her outside, left while Prusci and other workers began the repairs.

After about 10 minutes, they could hear the goat crying.

“We cracked open the trunk, you know, so it could breathe,” Prusci said. “And sure enough, there it was. It kind of poked its head up.”

The goat had been painted purple and gold – the colors for the Minnesota Vikings. Shaved into its side was the No. 4 – the number of Brett Favre, who made his Vikings debut Friday night in a preseason game in the Twin Cities.

WOW! Now that’s a die-hard!


Written by PJ

August 25, 2009 at 1:44 pm

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