This subject is not one that is often touched upon, even though it is one of the more popular misconceptions in our culture. It is the belief that sports participation somehow leads to enhanced health and I want to dispel that myth and tell you once again that the day you start competing is the day fitness and health ends. Before proceeding further, it might be a good idea to settle on some definition of health. I think that we can find some common ground in agreeing that a healthy person is one who is free of injury and degenerative disease, and physiologically and psychologically sound. A healthy person to me is someone who can jump out of bed, pain free, with enthusiasm for the day ahead and with in reason do what ever physical task that daily life requires with ease i.e. walking a dog, climb a mountain, push start a car, touch their toes etc. Now let’s take it a step further and look at the goals of sport. Sports Goals and Liabilities The goals of sports are to equal or exceed certain goal numbers, outperform other individuals, and to show consistent improvement under increasingly more challenging conditions. This almost always leads to situations in which the structural integrity of the tissues is tested, and frequently succumbs. It can also develop physiological conditions that are detrimental to health, and in all too many situations injurious to the psyche. Just think about how the competitive CrossFit athletes psyche would be over the course of the 5 week Open !! In any of the iron sports such as CrossFit, weightlifting and powerlifting, it is not uncommon for practitioners to experience varying degrees of joint trauma that can lead to arthritis in the aging athlete’s body, not to mention connective tissue strains and sprains and ligament calcification and bone spurs. Personally speaking, I don’t know a competitive athlete in the iron game that wakes up without some form of stiffness and soreness at a minimum from hard training which most defiantly is not what you would picture from a “healthy” person. Sports that require reduced body fat can cause hormonal and glandular disruption among their practitioners, as well as eating disorders. Sports that require excessive bodyweight increases can also adversely affect the metabolism. Among youth sports and some adult athletes, parental and coaching psychological abuse can lead to damage to the psyche as well as difficulties with socialization and substance abuse. We have been able to learn a great deal about human physiology by studying athletes, and we’ve learned some training approaches that have benefits for general health. We also like to use specialized equipment and clothing developed for athletes for those that are not lifestyle athletes. Since physical fitness has emerged as a populist movement, the public’s desire to associate itself with athletes has also contributed to the association. Subsequently, many non-athletes have adopted what they believe are behavioral norms of athletes and inserted them into their own training regimens. The results in all too many cases are injuries and conditions that are hardly conducive to good general health. There are some valid connections between competitive athletics and physical activity for the improvement of general health. Be they training principles, clothing, gear, or attitudes, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish the blurred boundary between the two domains. Let’s Stop Confusing the Sports and Health I believe the confusion results because the leadership is not often clear about the two concepts. When you have top athletes advertising exercise equipment, exercise clothing, food supplements, and training approaches, the association is very powerful in the minds of the uninformed. Likewise, many leaders in the field of physical fitness use sports imagery and sports association to market training facilities, equipment and strategies. At some point, a distinction should be drawn so that those interested in improving their general health and fitness are not misled into potentially dangerous pathways. Rather, they should place the filter of “Is this good for me?” on their approaches before embarking on them. Remember, the entire goal of sports is to “go beyond your limits,” and that’s where the damage is done.