By Kieran Darcy
Page 2

EDITOR'S NOTE: With the help of our readers -- THIS MEANS YOU! -- Page 2 intends to determine the winner in the Battle for the Soul of Sports by matching the seven deadly sports sins against the seven heavenly sports virtues in a series of head-to-head duels. Today, Kieran Darcy offers his take on who has the upper hand in the eternal battle between gluttony and temperance, and lists some of sports' biggest gluttons and those who are little more restrained with their food and drink intake.

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"I don't believe in excess, success is to give …"
-- U2, "God Part II"

This lyric popped in my head when I started contemplating the sin of Sports Gluttony and the virtue of Sports Temperance.

The word "gluttony" can be applied in broad terms -- but when we do that, it begins to bleed into some of the other deadly sins. So I decided to employ the more specific definitions I found in my dictionary:

Gluttony: Excess in eating or drinking.

Temperance: Habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions.

Most professional athletes practice temperance. They have to in order to succeed at such a high level in their sport.

And then there are those who succeed in spite of their abhorrence of temperance. See: John Daly, David Wells, etc.

John Daly
Don't you think Daly would do better without that belly in the way?

So my question is this: Why are so many of these sinners so popular?

We give them great nicknames, like The Fridge and El Guapo, Boomer and The Bambino. And they attract colossal followings and great galleries.

In one sense, it's a shame. And it's symptomatic of a larger problem. We keep hearing about a crisis of obesity in this country. And yet we celebrate a handful of professional sports teams which feature cheerleading squads made up of 300-pound men who could drop dead of a heart attack at any second.

Heck, gluttony itself is now a sport -- literally. Thanks, Kobayashi.

I don't mean to be a stick in the mud. I'm half-kidding about the male cheerleading squads (I mean, I did try out for one myself). But I think it speaks to an unfortunate glorification of gluttony in the sports world today. I'm afraid in this particular matchup, gluttony has the upper hand in the Battle for the Soul of Sports.

Kobayashi puts on a show ESPN Motion

Let's look at golf, specifically. Tiger Woods is well on his way to becoming the greatest golfer of all time. And yet John Daly arguably is more popular than Woods. John Daly -- owner of two major titles, compared to Tiger's 10. And don't tell me it's because Daly hits those monster drives -- in fact, Tiger is ranked second on the PGA Tour in driving distance this year (313 yard average), while Daly is only sixth (305 yard average). And it isn't just because Daly is an underdog.

It's because we know John Daly.

We are John Daly.

THE BATTLE SCORECARD
Here's the fight card for Page 2's Battle for the Soul of Sports:

Round 1: Pride vs. Humility
Pride beat Humility, 75 percent to 25 percent.

Round 2: Envy vs. Love
Love beat Envy, 54 to 46

Round 3: Anger vs. Kindness
Anger beat Kindness, 61 to 39

Round 4: Sloth vs. Diligence
Diligence beat Sloth, 77 to 23

Round 5: Greed vs. Charity
Greed beat Charity, 70 to 30

Tuesday, Aug. 9: Sports Gluttony vs. Sports Temperance
Wednesday, Aug. 10: Sports Lust vs. Sports Chastity
Thursday, Aug. 11: And the winner is ...

Not literally, of course. But most of us share some things in common with Daly. Many of us have packed on a few extra pounds over the years. And some of us might occasionally have a couple too many beers on a Friday night.

I'll admit it -- I pull for Daly, too. But here's the thing.

I enjoy watching Woods more.

We should want more from our sports heroes than Daly gives us. After all, why do we watch, ultimately? To marvel at people who can do things we only dream of. Not to marvel at what they can accomplish despite abusing their bodies.

I'm not saying every professional athlete needs to be a teetotaler, or adhere to a strict diet 365 days a year.

I don't believe in excess. Success is to give …

To give everything you have. To take care of your body. To take advantage of the amazing talents God has given you.

I wish Daly could do that.

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I asked a few of my Page 2 colleagues to contribute their thoughts on Sports Gluttony vs. Sports Temperance as well. Check out what they had to say …

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Ya know, if David Wells can do it, so can I.

If John Daly can do it, so can I.

Rich Garces
There he is ... El Guapo.

Heck, if Takeru Kobayashi can do it, I can, too, fer cryin' out loud. He eats like a P.I.G. and never gains an ounce. So why not me?

Did I not see in the local paper just the other day that Rich "El Guapo" Garces is trying to make a comeback in Class A ball, and that he might be tipping the scales at around 300 pounds in the process?

I'd like to think I could do that.

Everyman could do that.

I think about the seven deadly sports sins, and then I think about me. It'd bug me to be overly proud. I wouldn't like myself much if I were an envious person. Anger? No future in it for me. Sloth … well, I have to keep my nose on the grindstone for a living. Greed is good, but not if you want to have friends. And lust … well, it can land you in jail.

But gluttony … now we're talking. Gluttony is easy. Gluttony 'R Us. And Wells, Daly, El Guapo … they look just like we do. So it's easy to see ourselves doing just what they do. They make it easier to project this big ol' beer belly of mine into the big leagues.

I'd like to write more, but there's a rumbly in my tumbly. Time for a smackerel of something.
-- Michael Knisley

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Chat: Page 2's Soul of Sports!
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Why is football the most popular sport in our fine land?

Because we are a country of gluttons. We like our pizza, our soda pop, our fast-food restaurants, our chips and our cookies. We are fat. We are overweight. We eat too much, drink too much, don't exercise enough and wear clothes way too tight for our obese figures.

In other words, we are just like NFL linemen. We do the dirty work and our bosses get the big raises. Other people are better athletes, better looking and in better shape. We identify with the gluttons in the trenches because we are them: a bunch of fat slobs.
-- David Schoenfield

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Overweight athletes are heroes? Sorry, fatties, but it ain't happening … (click here to read Patrick Hruby's take on this topic from last year).

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It's no surprise that people like to root for underdogs, and for someone with whom they can identify. Any guy with a gut is more like the average person, and so seems more human.

But I don't see it that way. I didn't root for the machine-like Russian against Rocky Balboa in "Rocky IV." But in the real world of sports, I'm all for Tiger over Daly. To me, there's no contest.

It's great to have the John Dalys of the world. They show us that every dog can have its day. But Tiger will get decades, not just days, to have. I'm pulling for Woods to be the best there ever was. I admire his mental toughness and hard-charging discipline. There's nothing wrong with wanting the best-trained, best -prepared, and hardest-working player to win.

But I imagine the throngs of people following Woods around the course would double if his belly hung over his belt.
-- Kurt Snibbe