Let’s face it. Athletes are a rare breed. Bigger. Stronger. Faster. And, quite logically, hungrier. Have you ever wondered what kind of appetite you’d have as a Division 1 athlete practicing every day, sometimes twice a day? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be that same athlete and go to bed hungry?
I consider myself a pretty sturdy guy who can eat his fair share, but compared to a Division 1 athlete, I am a spindly toddler at the kid’s table. The recent decision by the NCAA Board of Directors to allow unlimited food consumption by Division 1 athletes inspired my curiosity.
Finalized on Thursday, April 24, the new ruling allows all players (including walk-ons) to receive as much food as they want. The previous rule only allowed three meals per day or a food stipend, depending on what type of program.
The decision came in light of national champion UConn basketball star Shabazz Napier’s comments in a post-game interview.
He stated that he sometimes goes to bed “starving” because he can’t afford to buy enough food to satisfy his appetite. The comment drew a lot of attention to what is, in my opinion, a shocking but important issue. The fact that it took a national basketball phenom to bring awareness to it is surprising, but nonetheless the NCAA is making strides to correct the matter.
Now what may be enough food for the average person is not even close for a Division 1 athlete in any sport (okay maybe not golf, but you get the point). The longstanding statistical average daily calorie intake is around 2000 calories per day. Now, this is to maintain an average person’s average weight doing average activities.
But, athletes are anything but average in their caloric intake requirements. What’s more, some athletes aren’t trying to maintain weight — they are typically trying to gain weight to fulfill the needs of an intense practice schedule.
Consider an athlete who practices, lifts weights, and runs off calories for hours each day. If they were to run at eight mph for one hour, they would burn 896 calories, nearly half of what the average man should consume in any given day. Not to mention that at least another 500 calories must be consumed in order to gain muscle!
I feel I can relate, as I’ve been on a lifelong mission to gain muscle (albeit without great results). At 5’10” and 170 lbs I need to consume 2350 to 2550 calories a day to maintain my weight. When taking a look at Oregon’s senior starting offensive tackle Jake Fisher (the powerhouse that I have failed to become), at 6′ 6″ and 299 lbs, we find that he needs to consume at least 3800 to 4000 calories a day to maintain his weight, not including building muscle.
Luckily Fisher is on scholarship and has been receiving three meals a day, but imagine if he did not have that luxury. That’s a lot of food for one guy to pay for and eat every single day without any help with the dough (no pun intended).
Now Oregon has never prided itself on a smash-mouth, in your face, style of football in which it’s necessary to have behemoth’s at all offensive line positions. But it can never hurt to have a few guys who can physically dominate the players across from them.
With the new regulation in place, it’s logical to assume that players will only get faster, stronger, and bigger as they have already been doing over the years.
I think it bodes well for the Ducks as they pursue another shot at the National Title in the upcoming season. So keep eating, guys! We fans have a hard time grasping what it’s like to be in your shoes, but we stand by you 100%. With a brand new season coming up in what feels like the longest four months of a Duck football fan’s life, we salute you! ... and your appetite!
Top photo credit to Kevin Cline