Sports, Athletes, and Weight Loss: Health Concerns Essay

Sports, Athletes, and Weight Loss: Health Concerns Essay

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Weight Loss by Athletes and Health Concerns


Waking up, sophomore Mike Fumagalli would peel off the garbage bags and layers of clothing he had worn to bed the night before hoping to "sweat away" some extra weight.

Throughout the day, he would ask teachers to use their trashcans and would spit constantly. Sometimes, he would even cut his hair or sit in a sauna, all to lose a couple more pounds.

Many people may wonder why someone would go to such extreme measures just to lose a few pounds.

For Fumagalli, the answer was simply: "Everyone likes to win. That's why you cut weight."

"Cutting weight" is a term that refers to a wrestler's attempt to lose a certain amount of weight in order to compete in a particular weight category in wrestling competitions. Some wrestlers choose to lose weight so they can find a spot on the team, said Keith Healy, varsity wrestling coach of the nationally ranked team at Smallville High School.

Since only a certain number of slots are open per weight class, a wrestler may be beat out of a spot at one weight but perhaps can drop down to a lower weight where more openings are available.

Junior Sean Randich said that cutting weight also could be important because as one moves down in weight classes it is easier to win.

A common weight-loss method among the athletes is to wrap their body in garbage bags during exercise to maximize sweat loss, said Randich.

He added that while the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) prohibits this method, it is still commonly practiced.

JT wrestling coach "Mac" McLaughlin said that although he could not control what athletes did at home, at practice, garbage bags are not allowed. He added that most of his wrestlers, in fact, wear onl...


... middle of paper ...


... children's bodies," said Haas.

McLaughlin said that he tells parents, "If your kid looks like he's getting tired, souped out, stop."

Healy also consults parents about their child's weight loss and said that before any wrestler on his team makes the decision to cut a large amount of weight, he first consults the parents.

"Because of cutting weight, my mom doesn't like the whole sport," said Fumagalli.

He said that while his mom was supportive in helping him cut weight by doing such things as making salads, she drew the line when he began to get sick.

Fumagalli, who said he frequently cut weight in junior high, said he lost 12 pounds before this season but stopped when he started to get light-headed and dizzy.

"There is a fine line between determination of sport and health," said Fumagalli. "Strength is more important than losing two pounds."

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