I’ve written before that I got fat at nine. I don’t remember much about the thin years except I hated gym with a passion. Even before I was fat I was uncoordinated and clumsy which meant being teased during team sports. This grew worse as I got bigger and started developing.
However away from team sports I excelled at biking. On the bike any obstacle was a personal challenge, hills, dirt, mud and NYC traffic. I took the bike everywhere, even one time rode 20 miles from Queens to Long Island with some kind of bizarre idea I would ride to Jones beach (I didn't make because I didn't have a clue how to get there.)
I have biked since I was a thin little kid to a fat young adult. I still had two left feet, and did not get much better with sports that required good hand/eye coordination.
The Boy Scouts in their infinite wisdom have decided to ban any boy with a BMI over 40 from participating in their every four years Jamboree and those who are 32 to 39.9 can only attend it a camp medical staff deems them okay to exercise.
Many will rightly point out that BMI is a notoriously bad measure of fitness, especially when applied to teenagers, whose body compositions can fluctuate relatively rapidly as a natural part of growing up. Though the BSA has not released the number of those barred from attending, should we assume that perfectly capable scouts are being excluded because of an imprecise number?
The Boy Scouts message doesn't fit into the "help people" of their motto. They are putting people into categories without knowing their fitness. They are assuming a boy with a BMI over 40 must be unfit and that boys with a BMI of 32-39.9 must deemed fit or unfit. Whereas if you are under 32, you are considered fit and healthy. They are telling fat boys who live in anti-fat society that they cannot exercise unless they lose weight.
Katja Rowell of the Huffington Post Points out better ideas:
First and foremost, Scouts could incorporate different levels of challenges to be more inclusive of both fitness level and special needs. (Scouts cite that they have had over 100,000 participants with a range of disabilities, with efforts "directed at keeping such boys in the mainstream of Scouting.") Since the facility cost 350 million dollars, you would think they could offer comprehensive options.
If I had been a boy I wouldn’t been discriminated against because until my 20's my BMI was below 32. However going back to the thin me, I wouldn't have been able to perform a lot of the activities.
The essentials of the events seemed not to be much of a fun challenge but moral decision based on arbitrary number that doesn't prove fitness.