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Deliberating man’s appearance in the year 2000

The Story

How will man look and feel in the year 2000? According to Lloyd Percival, "Mr. 2000" could be seriously out of shape. In this 1961 clip, the host of CBC Radio fitness program Sports College offers data showing that "modern-day automation and labour-saving devices" are already causing men to be weaker and fatter than they were in the past. Unless North Americans make a concerted fitness effort, says Percival, the problem will only get worse.

Medium: Radio
Program: Sports College
Broadcast Date: Dec. 9, 1961
Commentator: Lloyd Percival
Host: Doug MacLennon
Duration: 5:29

Did You know?

• Sports College wasn't just a radio program. Launched in 1944, it was originally a joint project between the National Council of YMCAs of Canada and the CBC. The CBC provided the weekly broadcasts, while the YMCA financed all the free "follow-up" services, which included literature on sports and fitness. The YMCA eventually found itself stretched too thin, so a volunteer-run "Sports College Association" took over its responsibilities.

• The CBC Radio show ran on Saturday mornings until the mid-'60s. Fitness expert Lloyd Percival was the host and "head coach" of the program. Percival would answer questions on a variety of topics, including which exercises build which muscles, nutrition tips, injury prevention tactics, and strategies to improve performance in various sports. Hockey was a common focus for Sports College. Percival often brought on well-known hockey figures, such as Gordie Howe and Conn Smythe.

• "Keep fit, work hard, play fair, live clean" was Sports College's motto, according to a 1959 edition of CBC Times. A 1950s pamphlet for Sports College promoted the program as crucially important to Canadian society: "we Canadians must help our youth develop their full potential if we are to do our part in maintaining free democracy." As the pamphlet explained, the self-discipline required for sports participation "lays the basis for hard work and clean play -- not delinquency."

• Lloyd Percival was an all-around athlete. He boxed and played cricket, baseball, hockey, tennis, lacrosse, football and basketball. He coached several amateur sports as well.
• Percival also used Sports College as a foundation for fitness research. In 1948, he went to the Olympic Games in London to study elite athletes from a variety of countries. Percival paid special attention to the training and diet the international athletes had in their youth, hoping to apply those same principles to young Canadians.

• Percival wrote a book that became known as the hockey "bible": The Hockey Handbook, first published in 1951. Its revolutionary ideas went beyond just skating and passing -- Percival emphasized the importance of elements such as breathing control, calisthenics and setting personal goals. At first, North American hockey players and coaches dismissed the book and its unorthodox ideas as juvenile and irrelevant. NHL coach Dick Irvin called it "the product of a three-year-old." But Europeans and Russians seized on the book's ideas right away.

•The Russians used Percival's book as the basis for their training regimes, and the country's hockey program showed rapid, significant improvements as a result. The father of Russian hockey, Anatoli Tarasov, wrote to Percival: "Your wonderful book which introduced us to the mysteries of Canadian hockey, I have read like a schoolboy." As the Russians began to excel, North American hockey soon warmed to the ideas proposed by the book, and it became a classic in Canada and the United States as well.

• It seems Percival's predictions about "Mr. 2000" were correct. In 2002, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity released a report called "The Canadian Obesity Epidemic: An Historical Perspective." Using data collected between 1953 and 1998, the report showed significant increases in body mass and obesity rates in Canada over the 45-year period.

• By 2004, obesity has been labelled an "epidemic" by some in the North American medical community. This has led to a renewed emphasis on fitness and nutrition in the media.



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