This past year, we’ve lost some pretty recognizable names in bodybuilding. Some as actual IFBB competitors, others as figures in the industry. For the sake of this article, let’s simply focus on the IFBB competitors and discuss if health screenings should become mandatory in order to get on stage with the IFBB.
Win at all cost
I understand that there is a will to win and a do anything you can in order to put yourself into a position to win. However, at what cost? The “win at all cost” mentality is honestly stupid. And the “well, he died doing what he loved” is another idiotic statement. Many of these bodybuilders are putting themselves at risk in order to compete at a high level—and many don’t even know what negative effects it’s having on their body.
Bodybuilding in general is not a healthy sport, we all know that, but to the normal everyday population, they have no clue what goes into preparing to get on stage. They just see large muscles popping from everywhere. They don’t understand the state of dehydration many of them are in. How insanely weak they are on stage. Just posing is enough to make them nearly pass out. Some competitors have walked off stage and collapsed while some nearly collapsed right on the IFBB stage. Some severely cramp up mid-pose. These are all side effects to what they are putting their bodies through in order to compete at a high level. So, it begs the question if health screenings should be enforced?
There needs to come a time where we care about the athletes, themselves, for the longevity of the sport. That’s where health screenings can home into play. I don’t want to see unhealthy bodybuilders doing things that could put their health at risk long-term just for a pro win. Your life is worth so much more than winning a show that no one will remember you won years down the road. Or the NPC competitor who did “whatever it takes” in order to put himself or herself in a position to win a pro card.
Undetected and unknown conditions
If the IFBB doesn’t do any health screenings, how do they know their athletes are actually healthy enough to perform? I mean, as a personal trainer and strength coach, I evaluate EVERYONE before I work with them. This goes from the everyday soccer mom looking to get in better shape to the college or professional athlete looking to perform at a high level. Every single person I work with must have a full evaluation done by their doctor and must present the paperwork to me to view. They must also fill out a health questionnaire as addition protection for not only me, but the person I’m working with.
I simply can’t understand why the IFBB doesn’t have anything like health screenings in place. As long as you have money and a pro card, you can jump on stage—no questions asked. Why is that? If a competitor has some underlying condition that is undiagnosed because they don’t regularly go see their doctor to get blood work and a physical, how would they know? What they look like on the outside doesn’t necessarily reflect what things look like on the inside.
I feel as if it’s the IFBB’s JOB to enforce such a guideline for competition within their organization. And stop being so greedy and actually pay for the health screenings for all athletes. Maybe you have a group of doctors who are willing to work with you and give you a better price to have all the competitors go through them specifically? And not just any doctors. Make sure they understand what bodybuilders are taking and how it could affect the body so they can determine if all organs and such are functioning properly.
But, being that many of these competitors today aren’t making any money from competing, it’s the least the IFBB could do to ensure safety within the sport and the health of the competitors.
Other professional sports leagues force health screenings in order to compete
Look around at other professional sports, not only are the athletes paid to compete, but they get full medical treatment and health screenings. Take the NFL for example, these guys get paid more per game than most bodybuilders do all year. Imagine that. One week of work in the NFL is more profitable for the athlete than a bodybuilder during an entire year (with the exception of guys like Phil Heath).
Then look at the medical protocols put in place. If an NFL athlete gets hit in the head or bounces their head off the turf, they get pulled from the game and go through a concussion protocol. If they are cleared, they go back into the game. If not, they are forced to go through the necessary steps the following week to even be considered able to play again. In addition, if they aren’t cleared after going through those steps, they could be out several weeks before they can get back into a game.
Same thing goes with pulled or torn muscles. Heck, there are even athletes who skip a game for simply being sick. We have competitors on stage in way worse shape at the brink of passing out.
This should all also roll into bodybuilding (not the concussion rule). If a bodybuilder gets checked out and something comes back positive, they should be held from competing until it’s taken care of. It should be done not only for the safety of the athlete, but also the liability of the IFBB. I’m not naïve to think that all competitors don’t sign a waiver every year they compete that says competing and their personal health is their own risk. Yet, some bodybuilders don’t even have health insurance—this would be a great way for the IFBB to get involved and give these athletes the health screenings they need. If they praise athletes with such amazing physiques, they should be willing to help take care of them and their health to help them get on stage as many times as they can each year. Health should come before money.
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