Wednesday, August 20, 2008

America's Golden Boy, With Sugar on Top . . .

So you've NO DOUBT heard about this kid, Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in Beijing to go with his six gold medals from Sydney to make him the winningest gold medalist in the history of the Olympic games and to catapault him to sports-icon-demi-Godary.

Kudos. Really. Congrats. NOTHING wrong with that, Mikey. You swim five or six HOURS a day. Your body is truly a vessel for swimming (just Google him and you can read all about it) but it seems like all YOUR hard work in the pool and you taking a payday because of it (now the REAL American dream comes in to play) has landed you in hot water (and the "pun" makes its first appearance (and pray the last) of this post).

Yep. Michael Phelps has decided to sell his image to be on the cover of . . . no. NOT Wheaties. Corn Flakes and FROSTED FLAKES. And boy is that not guhhrrrrrrr-ate according to childhood obesity experts.

COME ON, people! Please?! PLEASE?! Can we NOT criticize this kid for being on the cover of a box of sugary cereal? Can we NOT give kids sooooo little credit as to assume that they would assume that eating a sugar coated cereal will somehow make them an Olympic-dominating swimmer? I was a fat kid. I ate the CRAP out of Frosted Flakes. I wish Frosted Flakes was the most sugar-loaded sugar I ate. Don't even get me started on my obsession and long, milk coated love affair with Cap'n Crunch and his four-leaf clovered friend Lucky Charms and their sweeter-than-thou pal Cinnamon Toast Crunch!

Regardless - I never ONCE looked at the cover of a box of cereal and thought . . . "Hey, I could someday turn out to be Snap, Crackle or Pop if I eat this noisy crap." or "Whoa - you mean to tell me that if I eat this cereal, I might someday become a Toucan that takes dares?" or "No, seriously, Patrick - if you pass me that cereal box I might turn in to a honey-nut Bee before I turn eight." I don't think, if I could be a child again (dare to dream) that I would look at a cover of Frosted Flakes with Michael Fug-elps on the cover and think "NOW I can be an Olympian" any more than the kids of today think they will become Tony the Tiger when the Phelps photos disappear off the box.

Give the kid (Phelps) and all the kids (obese kids in America) a break and focus on what is actually USEFUL in the fight against child obesity . . . education, physical activity and parental involvement. WORST case - these kids see a box of Corn Flakes and want to hit the nearby pool. BEST case - parents will take the games as an opportunity to talk to their kids about athletics and physical activity and will get them (especially the cute and pudgey ones off the couch). I know that my father and I swam TON in the summer of 1984 as the Olympic games played-out in Los Angeles. Heck I even RAN a little bit that summer. And tried to use a broom as a javelin (sp?).

Now - if you want a reason to challenge Michael Phelps as a conflicted role model for our kids - point to his hardly-discussed and all-but-forgotten drinking and driving arrest and conviction in 2004 . . . or is THAT off limits for America's new golden boy? You're right, obesity critics, best to keep the focus on sugar in our cereals. That will solve this whole epidimic. Of course you'll have to also discuss with kids that Phelps works out and practices so much that he requires 13,000 calories a day (yeah, you read that right) and eats all sorts of junk food to meet those goals (and then just swims the calories right back off). But - then you would have to make EXCERCISE and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY enter the argument. MUCH better to just blame this whole problem on sugar and cereal makers and Olympians. Right?!

You're all wet (second pun), critics! Let the kid enjoy his golden moments and the money and success that will come from them! He's worked hard and deserves them.


This Show said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. While no one says "I will eat Frosted Flakes and become an olympic swimmer" it does create a athletic association with the product.

There are interesting thoughts about whether or not corporate America is making us fat. I think corporate America is a part of it. Portions are larger. There's more chemicals in our food.

Don't get me wrong, Michael Phelps isn't the sole source of the problem. He may not even be a part of it. He's just an excuse to talk about it.

Sean C. Amore said...

Food makers don't dictate portion size - the federal government does. How MANY portions they put in a container is the food maker's decisions, clearly.

Mr. Kellogg nor General Mills (real people, right?) pour cereal in the home either - that is on parents and kids and MAYBE the people that design the bowls we eat cereal from.

PERSONAL responsibility. Alcohol, firearms, porn, etc. - ALL things that some of us can and can not "handle" . . . but they are available because the masses can.

Agreed that - if NOTHING else - the Phelps "scandal" gets us talking about an issue.

Catherine said...

If you're going to bring up Frosted Flakes creating athletic association, let's talk about McDonalds. Not only are they a huge sponsor of the Olympic games (along with Coke, which we can then get into a health AND dental argument), but what about that ridiculous commercial with athletes reaching for their Big Macs instead of gold medals?

I'd rather have my brother eat Frosted Flakes for breakfast, as at least he's eating breakfast and can burn it off during the day, than eat McDonalds ever.

Most kids won't eat breakfast, either due to taste or time on their parents part (to spend making what they do want). If Phelps will help kids eat breakfast than go for it, even if it is a bit sugary.

People really need to be going after Coke and McDonalds.