Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 10/19/14
A good look at the media-tagged Explainer-in-Chief shows a slim man in good shape. And he should be. Bill Clinton had a big turnaround after his heart surgery. He's never looked better after finding the vegan diet. If he lived in Portland, he'd probably consult the Happy Cow Healthy Eating Guide. Does this make him an ideal spokesperson for good health practices? Maybe. Like a famous Baby Boomer song by Joni Mitchell, Mr. Clinton has also seen life from both sides now. Once a husky President, now a trimmed down global voice for change. In a giant step for mankind the former president took to the podium at his Arkansas library. With all of his legendary skills on display, Clinton reported on his work for better world health then drilled in. The mention of childhood obesity and Type-2 diabetes came early in his speech. It was enough. It ought to be a clarion call to all moms and dads, to all adults with child custody. You've heard of the obesity epidemic? Heard how obese kids grow into obese adults? You've seen the commercials for blood glucose testing equipment? They're all lifestyle related. The great Denzel Washington did a press conference where the interviewer asked about his weight loss. "I lost weight because I had a fat man chasing me," Denzel said. The obese child has a fat kid chasing him, one who grows into a fat man carrying diabetes meds. Run, kid, run. Can a responsible guardian do more to stop the march from sluggish childhood to sluggish adulthood and an hourly diabetes management routine? Here's one way: Find the nearest league for organized sports and sign your kid up today. Go to practices. Read the rule book. Talk about becoming a referee. It doesn't matter what sport as long as your kid has a friend on the team. If they don't have a friend, it's time to make new friends. You'll be their team friend from the stands. By now you're either shutting down, or thinking, "I want my kid in sports but how can I trust my child to coaches I don't know?" This is an emergency. Your kid needs you. More than that, the habits they learn now will stay with them. Give them that gift today. Turn your kid into an athlete instead of a couch veggie hooked on Big Gulps. We all know where that leads to. Linda Ross Swanson, author, educator, and counselor, shares a secret in her talks. In a special secret voice she says, "We're all going to die." So learn how to live. Everyone deserves a moment of feeling indestructible. An obese eighteen-year-old who grew from an obese eight-year-old will never feel it. Life is already breaking them down. Sign your child up for sports and they learn more than kick a ball or shoot a hoop. They'll learn to be on time. They'll learn cooperation with their teammates. You'll learn to cooperate with some of the parents. One season turns into the next and your child will find familiar faces. They'll recognize others on their opposing teams. This is the gold standard of sports and fitness. You never want to disappoint teammates. Opponents always keep you pushing harder. President Clinton didn't say it in his opening words from the Clinton Library, but I will: The benefit of sports is fitness. Any sport will improve your fitness level no matter how good or bad you are. Parents who sign their kids up change lives, including their own. You can do it.
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