24 April 2014

Come on fattie

Paddy Lewis

30/11/2011 10:30:00 a.m.


Sport Talk
IF you’re a wee bit obese, don’t exercise much, and like wearing tracksuits, you probably shouldn’t read any further as it may not be good for your blood pressure.  There, that’s the health warning this week. I’ve always liked Will Self the author.  He writes brilliantly and his stories have a touch of reality with a touch of the Roald Dahl mixed in. Recently he wrote in a column for the New Statesman:
“Just as zeitgeisty are obese people on mobility scooters wearing tracksuits. The quintessential sight of modern Britain, it should be put on postcards together with jolly policemen carrying Heckler & Koch rifles, Olympic stadiums with built-in obsolescence and looters trying on clothes.”
Now he was taken to task in the comments section on the New Statesman website, with people saying quite reasonable things such as “…come along - a tracksuited, obese person on a mobility scooter is quite strange if you think about it - although i suppose they could be a weightlifter or shot-putter or another obese-friendly sport partaker without the use of his lower limbs…”
I do have to agree with Mr. Self’s general thesis though.  Back when I was a proper athlete, the only people you saw in adidas tracksuits and the like were other athletes.  I remember getting hell one mufti day in 1983 at school when I wore a tracksuit top.  It just wasn’t done.  If you were gardening or whatever, you could have those old saggy marl grey trackies or your dad’s overalls.
Nowadays, every team, franchise, national sporting body and the like license their apparel so that a hugely obese 40 year old woman who has never lifted a finger in 20 years can wander round making people like my dear old mother think “What?  She’s with the Southern Steel? No point buying a season ticket….”
On the flip side, fat people will tell you they like tracksuits because they are “comfortable” and “hide a multitude of sins”.  And here I was thinking it was just fat rolls.  
I first struck the phenomenon of tracksuits and teams when I went to London in 1995.  Having just come from a job in sports and management of branding, apparel and everything else, I was gobsmacked to go to a Chelsea v Blackburn match and see half the crowd wearing the tracksuit tops the players on the bench were wearing.
Once reality set in and I realized it was a brilliant revenue-generating tool, I also realized it was a dangerous brand assassinator too.  You would read headlines like “Young Teen Brutalised By Arsenal Thugs” only to realize the Arsenal connection came because they were all wearing the team’s shirts whilst carrying out the beating.
Back here, I’ve always been a firm believer in earning the right to wear the gear (which is why the kit I have just been given by a World Cup-winning All Black will never get worn – you have to “Earn The Fern”).
So it infuriates me to see people whose sole exercise is getting out of bed in the morning wearing All Black tracksuits.  Or roly-polys wearing Super 15 jerseys with their puku hanging out the bottom.
Sure, the sponsoring apparel manufacturers have to make a dollar.  But surely those people who buy it must have some pride somewhere?  I recall how we used to laugh at overweight Springbok supporters testing the stitching on their side’s jerseys at Test matches.
Now we’re the same.  Perhaps it’s time to go back to the grey marl trackies and baggy sweatshirts....or just get active.  Come on fattie.  Do it for the team
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