I know, I know, two Suck It articles in two weeks. I don’t usually do that. This is not me becoming a crochety old lady (though in anticipation of my glorious half-century, I have already received an invitation to join AARP). No, this is a reflection of the sheer amount of painful stupid going on in the world right now.
But let me illustrate.
(Illustration via Sports Illustrated/CNN)
This is Taylor Townsend.
Taylor is sixteen years old. She’s also the top ranked Junior Tennis player in the world. Note that: in the world. We’re not talking best in a backwater elementary school better known for competitive teacher harassment or distance spitball championships. We’re talking top junior tennis player in the entire freaking world.
The Chicago native took singles and doubles junior titles at the Australian Open earlier this year, becoming the first American to do that since 1992. She finished well up in the rankings in both singles and doubles at the French Open. She’s on every tennis fan’s list of young players to watch. In fact, she’s on the verge of going pro and becoming a household name.
And how does the US Tennis Association reward this talented girl who is noted as not only a powerhouse player, but a hard worker and excellent positive role model for the sport?
If you guessed ‘gave her an award and recommended other aspiring tennis players take a chapter from her book’ you would be wrong. If you guessed ‘refused to pay for her travel to tournaments until she loses weight’ you would be sadly right.
Taylor’s mother, Sheila, paid for Taylor’s travel to the US Open.
So what prompted this move by the USTA?
Well, it seems that Taylor lost in the first qualifying round for a professional tournament in Vancouver.
That’s right: she lost a game. One game. an important one, I’ll grant you, but if she wore a smaller size tennis dress, what would they have done? Maybe ramped up training a bit, but that would have been it at worst.
But they have decided that because the number one ranked junior champion in the world lost one game on one day that she has to lose weight and ramp up her training.
Patrick McEnroe, general manager of the USTA’s player development program assures us all that he is really just concerned about Taylor’s health and well-being.
But you know what? If that was true, dieting is the last thing he would be asking of a sixteen year old. The human body continues to grow and develop into the twenties. It’s rare for a girl of sixteen to have finished growing up, but even if she has, the body is still sorting itself out for a few years to come. On top of this, Taylor is involved in extreme competitive sports. She needs the energy and nutrition of hearty meals to do what she’s asking of her body.
Oh, and let’s not forget that every single long term study of weight loss accomplished in any way whatsoever has shown the same results: sure, the weight comes off at first and stays off for a while. But at the end of five years, no study – and we’re talking all the way back to the first one performed in the 1950’s – has shown less than a 92% failure rate (ie: every single pound comes back) and a very high rate of gaining more weight than was lost in the first place. The younger the dieter, the worse the chances of long-term weight loss success and the higher the chances of developing an eating disorder.
Add to that the stress of trying to fit into their narrow (literally!) concept of what healthy looks like means more emotional stress, which can lead to depression and a wide variety of physical ills.
Yes, it’s all about her health, isn’t it.
Oh look! There’s a pig nesting in my oak tree!
Let the best junior player in the world play at full strength, physically and mentally. That’s how you show concern for her health.