The Athlete vs. America Essay

Submitted By kassk02
Words: 5589
Pages: 23

The Athlete vs. America:
How DIII College Athletes Fuel Their Bodies in the Fast Food Age

Introduction This research paper looks at the area of college athletics, both male and female, and examines their diet plans. How does college athletes’ diets compare to traditional American foodways? This topic is important because it examines a huge part of American culture and essentially what it means to be American. To focus on how dieting is emphasized in American culture, specifically athletes’ food consumption, this paper focuses on the foodways of Hope College athletes during their respective athletic seasons. To carry out this topic I will first provide a brief overview of the importance in how athletics plays a role in American culture. Next I will outline the interviews of Hope College athletes who participated, or are participating, in a DIII sport in 2012. The sports that each athlete participated in include football, soccer, volleyball, swimming and basketball due to timeliness with this research project. With their interviews in mind, I will examine how their foodways reflect the overall foodways in American culture today, or if they go against traditional societal norms. I want to see if athletes are more likely to be health conscious or more likely to practice special diets because of being in a sport.

Review of Literature
Fast Food Epidemic Our culture has been shaped by food since it’s beginning. Because what we eat and how we eat signifies who we are. Do we take time with family over a homemade meal? Do we eat around a circle? Or do we clammer handfuls of french fries into our mouths while traveling down the interstate? Are we organizers who make sure not one food is touching the other? Or are we pickers who want just a little bit of mayonnaise on our sub, but oh just three globs not four? The question, “what’s for dinner?” has shaped our lives since the day we were spoon fed and is the basis of what Michael Pollan describes as the “national eating disorder.” He blames this eating disorder partially on the fact that our country lacks food roots, “it would never have happened in a culture in possession of deeply rooted traditions surrounding food and eating” (Pollan 2006). Countries like France and Germany have always had traditions surrounding food because of their heritage, but in the “new country,” the roots were broken. “A country with a stable culture of food would not shell out millions for the quackery (or common sense) of a new diet book every January. It would not be susceptible to the pendulum swings of food scares or fads” (Pollan). He also describes what he’s named the “American paradox,” which is how an unhealthy culture with an obesity epidemic is obsessed by the idea of eating healthy. In 2012, it’s not about what you eat. It’s about where and how you eat. The goal is to get as much food as required to feel full in as little time as possible. According to the Pew Research Center, we have over 160,000 fast food restaurants in America with over $50 million Americans served daily. “We need handheld, bite-size, and dripless food because we are eating on the run - all day long” (Jackson 2008). For college athletes especially, coping with school, work, a sport, and social relationships leave little time for food. “Americans report that 20 percent of their “meals” aren’t breakfast, lunch, or dinner. That’s because snacking, generally frowned upon a generation ago, is a norm, while meals tend to happen when and where we can fit them in” (Jackson). The problem is that our days are not centered around meals, or food for that matter. Our days are centered around the next task. In college, students are walking (or running, if late) to class, meeting with their study group, planning a project, writing a paper, going to practice, heading to the sporting event, working on a lab, or trying to squeeze in a movie with friends. After class, a meeting, a practice, they’re…