By Samir | April 30, 2012
Bodybuilding, in its current form, will never be more than a subculture, a carny sport of sorts. With the bloated, nearly-immobile, unattainable physiques that are espoused by its most renowned organizations and supplement manufacturers, it will always be ridiculed by the massic as “steroid freaks in speedos”. As long as the people see the cartoonish, steroid-augmented physiques, it will never, ever move beyond where it is now. There is too much of a stigma associated with steroids (and perhaps rightly so, as research in this area incomplete at best) for it to become a mainstream sport.
Of course, it can be argued now that steroids, exogenous human growth hormone and exogenous testosterone themselves are mainstream. They’re in Olympics, they’re being used by Hollywood stars, by older guys, football players, baseball players, by underwear models, by asthma patients, etc. This is true. But in none of those cases do steroids produce visibly ridiculous changes that are so striking, they shape the perception of the entire domain.
And that’s the point, really. It’s not that steroids are killing bodybuilding - it’s that the guys who are at the top now are such heavy users that they’ve gone from having aspirational figures ot having cartoonish figures. It’s too much steroids. Arnold was aspirational, and the current champions are ridiculed outside of every circle beyond his own. Both generation of bodybuilders took steroids; why did one become a spokesman and the other become a punchline?
The truth is, perception and soundbites are what shape the public opinion of anything today. If a layperson took a 20-second look at a Mr. Olympia competition, he’d leave with his head shaking in disgust. This wasn’t the case in 1976 when Arnold was at the top of his game.
Perception 20 years ago: “This is awesome”
Perception today: “These guys are big, useless and unhealthy. It’s gross.”
I’d argue that the guys in the 1970s were much smarter than the guys today. Those guys “used” but were laser-focused on becoming heroes to the masses, not to themselves. The guys today are only in it for themselves and are willing to drag the entire sport of bodybuilding to the depths of ridicule, complicit with judges and supplement manufacturers (it’s manufactured food, after all), with the commensurate perception.
If the judges rewarded the aspirational physique rather than the “Mass Monster”, perhaps things would be different. Perhaps.
Topics: Fitness |
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