Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Getting in the Game
When I was a kid- I watched alot of football.
I know my girlfriends- I don't seem the type.... but never judge an outfit based on accessories alone.
We had season's tickets to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Go Blue!) and I was a fan. No not the type of fan who paints shit on their face and stands in some ridiculous outfit waiting for the camera to pan on you so you can fist pump for all the country to see.... but I was a fan who sat in the stands (or on my couch in front of the TV) and cheered my beloved team on.
I remember those days all too clearly. you see the CFL play off season is in November in Winnipeg. November in Winnipeg is when mother nature loses all sense of sisterhood. November in Winnipeg (or anywhere on the prairies for that matter) is minus 30 and sunny. (yes, fellow Winnipegers.... we know- it's a dry cold- tell yourselves what you need to just to go outside)
So there I was in the stands one sunny day in November circa 1982 watching the Blue Bombers play. There I was cheering for my team dressed in.... a sleeping bag. Dear papa was not the most fashionable man but he was a freakin genius. I was warm as toast. That and he had a thermos of hot chocolate with Kahlua. You can see why the man was my hero.
Back then, the Bomberettes (the cheerleaders) wore snow suits in bright blue and gold (think 1970's snow bunny). Back then you could buy popcorn and beer and coke and hot dogs at the game, if you dared to take off your mittens and eat the damn things in the first place.
Fast forward 30 years to the Western Canadian Final of the Canadian Football league at BC stadium in Vancouver.
BC is playing Edmonton for a place in the Grey Cup and there I sit 20 rows up on the 45 yard line.
Gone is my Dad (sniff). The hot chocolate and Kahlua have been replaced by a quinoa and kale salad which I brough ina very stylish Tupperware container. And yes, in lieu of a sleeping bag- I'm wearing Helmut Lang. Full disclosure? When in doubt... that German genius dose fit a little small but does go a long way to making anyone look a bit like a rock star in his clothing.
This was a sporting event.... the fashion called for a one part "rocker chick" one part "rugged". Helmut was my guy.
But I digress....
I sat down in the stands with my foam orange "Go Lions" finger placed firmly on my right hand and p[prepared myself for 4 quarters of football nostalgia. Along with 42,000 of my closest friends I yelled at referees, cheered for my team and told complete strangers in orange tights and protective cups to "move your ass".
I spent 180 minutes strolling down memory lane, my father smiling over me as I shamelessly uttered profanities as if I was in the comfort of my own home.... and yes, my girlfriends... it was NOT frowned upon. This WAS my home and these were my peeps.
But I could not help but notice that my "peeps" were eating crap.
The man in front of me ate two servings of fries over the period of 4 hours. THere was a row in front of me who were eaitng fish and chips by the basket. To my left was the proverbial hot dog monster and to my right was a lovely young man eating what can only be called a "yard of popcorn". Yes, it was a bag the size of one's leg filled with popcorn- I do not exaggerate. THese were the items (more or less) of my childhood but their size had really exploded.
All that and above me was the club section where two platters of chicken wings and a buffet of nachos was in full swing.
And all around me was a beer garden.
It was somewhere in the middle of the second quarter that it donned on me how much a celebration of sport is conducive to the most unhealthy behaviours around.
How is it that a spectator of athletics is encouraged to worship that which is so NOT athletic. When did the sport of it all become so much about watching and so little about getting in the proverbial game?
And then it dawned on me.... Sponsorship of such events is often done by fast food chains and beer companies. The exposure that the average kid gets from the commercial advertising at a football game or a hockey game is easily 2000 calories worth of hurting.
There I was with my container of quinoa salad watching the consumption around me.
According to several studies by both the Harvard School of Public Health (2008) and the Sydney school of public health (2006), children exposed to food advertising during sporting events are significantly more likely to recognize certain products. These effectively increase consumption of such items. One perfect example is the rise in sport drink consumption among kids not engaging in sports.
Yah, I know. I WAS at a football game. Would it have killed me to keep it light and just have a corn dog? Yes, dear girlfriends it would. After all- I was wearing my skinny jeans and corn dogs are not my thing. But I hear you, dear girlfriends... keep it light. I just think sometimes we need to rage against the machine. Turns out this week's machine was a yard of popcorn and 3000 calorie tailgate party.
And so my girlfriends, here's my message.... love the football. Go team, go. At Sunday's Grey Cup.... I'll bring the PRIDE... you bring the fruit plate.