Friday, February 5, 2010

Workout II: The Democratization of Athleticism

Before the Ice Age, there were jocks who roamed campuses the way dinosaurs once roamed the earth, both admired and feared for their enormous strength and sexual capability. These creatures were the possessors of such immense animal appeal that some degree of debate arose about the ability of most females to use their innate reasoning faculties to withstand jock magnetism. It was observed that in the presence of these jocks females routinely abandoned the kind of discernment that we generally associate with poetic sensibility. Were women who went after hulks like this merely paying lip service to the great romantic poets, Goethe, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth and later Rilke?
Then a sea change occurred that was as revolutionary as the advent of the Internet itself. Across the five continents of Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Latin America, consortiums of gyms started to pop up. There was no end of gyms or the plans they offered, and they seemed as plentiful as the poppy harvest in Afghanistan. All of a sudden jocks were everywhere. Little men who previously received no more attention then Arnold Stang, the chinless actor who appeared in all the Chunkies commercials—“Chunkies, what a chunk a chocolate!”—and  equally diminutive women started to develop enormous biceps and quadriceps. They trained for marathons. There were even women who completed The Iron Man, with no sense of irony. They trained harder than the captain of any football team (or Arnold Stang). Because their training had nothing to do with a game or a season, it went on for a lifetime.
You didn’t need to be a talented competitor to be an athlete. You didn’t need to make the cut. You didn’t even need to compete. The only qualification for athleticism was a desire to have a truly great body and wonderful, albeit sometimes unfocused, aerobic and anaerobic capabilities. Proprioceptivity was advisable, but not required. This new generation of workout warriors was like Odysseus when he outsmarted the monster Polyphemus. Who cared about a quarterback who could simply throw a Hail Mary pass, the center who slam-dunked, or the tennis player whose abilities were pathetically limited to getting a ball over a net? Since athleticism was no longer limited to sports, a whole new spectrum of possibilities came to the fore. The dorky egghead who couldn’t get a date was now, more often than not, the possessor of brains and brawn. For the first time in millennia, the jocks were being beaten at their own game.  Sort of.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.