To many boys (and some girls), professional athletes are modern-day heroes. Iconic celebrities with fame, fortune, and power. What wide-eye youth wouldn’t want the same?
Turns out, a lot of them do. (With oversized Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan posters adorning my childhood walls, I certainly did.) But as with all desirable things in life, getting paid to play sports isn’t easy.
In fact, the odds are downright nasty for aspiring players, according to new data from the NCAA.
I owned my fair share of Air Jordans growing up. But as a jack of all trades, I always had a soft spot for Bo Jackson, his amazing talent, and his cross training shoes. In fact, I probably owned more Bo Jacksons than Air Jordans. I certainly drew more cross trainers than basketball shoes.
Unfortunately, Bo Jackson was only superhuman for four years until he suffered a hip injury. But for those four years, he was arguably bigger than even Jordan, as this wonderful profile of him suggests. Bo, it turns out, really did know.
I’m not crazy about their using corn sweeteners. And they won’t make you jump higher or run faster. But sports drinks (read: bottled sugar water) such as Gatorade and Powerade actually work when it comes to endurance boosts. Marathoners know this, as does this new study by the University of Edinburgh.
Scientists discovered that 12 to 14-year-olds could play for almost a quarter longer during team games when they drank an isotonic sports drink before and during games. The sports drink helped the adolescents continue exercising for up to 24% longer than those who were given a non-carbohydrate placebo drink.
To be clear, you can make homemade sports drinks that are nearly as effective. Just mix water with a little sugar, some flavoring, and a dash of salt. (Most isotonic drinks are a 6% carbohydrate-electrolyte solution.)
They key is to know when to reach for sports drinks over good old water. And all the research I’ve read suggests water is more than suitable for workouts under an hour. Anything longer than that and your body will benefit from the extra dose of electrolytes, carbs, sugar, and salt.
I know mine does during long distance runs.
See also: Top 5 Powerade flavors