Media Watch: Does dedication mean giving up desert?
When I first saw the recent Citi commercial in which athletes profess all of the sacrifices they’ve made to get where they are today, it didn’t sit well with me. To put it in perspective, I was at the time, enjoying a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge sauce as a male athlete voice-over proclaimed, “I haven’t ordered desert in two years.”
I cringed in that moment. Not because I felt guilty for my delicious desert (I’ve already made it clear I eat chocolate every day.) but because I thought of all of the vulnerable men, women, boys, and girls who would hear that proclamation and take it as an indication of what should be rather than what one silly advertising company felt might represent sacrifice.
The commercial goes on to feature supposed athletes claiming all of the things that they gave up for their sport – from not reading the latest bestseller (c’mon, they are clearing talking 50 Shades here…) to not participating in many other “typical” joys of life. The picture painted is of the single-minded, tenacious athlete whose greatest sacrifices beget his or her greatest glories.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty tired of that cultural standard. I’m not suggesting that the athletes that have made it to the Olympic games have not given up a number of things, and that this hasn’t in part allowed them to succeed. Sure it has. But does one’s life have to be consumed by fourteen hours per day of training with no time for socialization, recreation, or education (or a flippin’ Kit Kat bar) in order to achieve greatness? I don’t think so.
Granted, it may come down to how we define success. If being considered the best in the world at a particular endeavor is your measure of success, then surely your priorities might have to shift a little. But for most of us, and I’ll include myself in that group, success in life means living a well-balanced and well-nourished life. And I don’t believe that a singular pursuit can nourish anyone. Man cannot live on bread alone, the saying goes. Well, he can’t live on Power Bars and time trials alone either.
If you’ve seen the Citi commercial, my wish for you is that you were able to recognize the message as a gross distortion and still enjoy your trashy novel and dessert. If you haven’t seen it, don’t both. Watch this parody instead: