"Everybody poops. Even your favorite athlete."

I am really not sure what to say in regards to this 2010 ESPN story about the science and psychology of elite athletes shitting themselves all over the place. Two thoughts though:

1. This story is totally fascinating and you will not regret reading it, even through the disgust. It is its own unicorn chaser.

2. I am so, so glad that I do not exercise at a level where my body has to make a choice between keeping my heart, lungs, and muscles working vs. providing all my other internal organs (including colon) with enough blood flow to remain functional.

In the 1997 NBA Finals, a severe stomach flu forced Michael Jordan to play through extreme bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. His 38 points (with multiple grimaces) led the Bulls to a pivotal Game 5 win against Utah. At Wimbledon in 2001, Serena Williams was suffering from a stomach virus and ran off the court during her quarter-final match with Jennifer Capriati in the decisive third set, after pleading with the chair ump for a timeout. "I can't hold this," Serena cried. And this summer, some of the New Orleans Saints began referring to their championship tilt with the Colts as the Super Bowel because of the unpleasant events that transpired before kickoff. "An NFL pregame locker room can be the most god-awful scene you will ever see or smell," says former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Browns. "We are moments away from the Super Bowl, the highlight of our athletic lives, and pretty much everyone is in the bathroom just absolutely blowing up the stalls."

Yes, everybody poops. Even your favorite athlete. The difference is, sometimes they do it in front of millions of people. In the doomsday parlance of pants pooping, let's put the Saints at a relatively safe Defcon 5 -- that's military lingo for "normal readiness" -- Williams at Defcon 4 and Jordan at a potentially messy Defcon 3. When you see surfer Kelly Slater suddenly paddle away from a big wave at Banzai, he's likely at emergency level Defcon 2, creating an organic flotilla that surfers call fish food. As Slater puts it, "The secret for going No. 2 in the ocean is being down current from everybody. You don't want to go up current at your friends. That's rude."

Which brings us to the main subject of this story: Defcon 1, or "maximum readiness ...

Read the rest at ESPN.com

Via Christopher Ryan

Image: Poop, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from spaceamoeba's photostream


  1. The end of that article about killed me.  I haven’t laughed that hard in months.  Almost had my own DefCon 1 moment!

  2. Just like there are professional eating contests, there should be professional pooping contests. And that way, nobody would be embarrassed by an accident there.

    By the way, we also aren’t supposed to talk about how professional eaters barf up all their food. Since I assume those guys train as much as the runners and football players in the article… does this mean professional eaters are burning the candle at both ends?

    1. Imagine it now…the bowl cam.   You’d need one of those wipe away screen setups they use for the Nascar onboard cams.

      I’m not sure all professional eaters throw up what they eat.  The Nathan’s Hotdog contest was on while I was at the gym and one of the contestants basically said he just didn’t eat for 4 or 5 days after the contest.  Water and broth was all the consumed for the following week…  All I could think was my god the sodium you are consuming. 

      1. Some guys don’t vomit afterwards, but many (perhaps most) do. A large part of an eating contest is holding it back until a winner is declared, because if you barf while people are watching (what is referred to as a “reversal” or a “Roman incident”), you’re disqualified.

        Here’s a thread on the matter:


        Also page 5 of the HowStuffWorks writeup:


        And, on a related note, there’s this professional vomiting competition I somehow missed in 2008:


        …I can’t imagine why that show didn’t get renewed. Unless, for some reason, showing people vomiting is not a good way to sell commercial time to Arby’s.

      2. I still can’t get over the fact that the guy who wins all the eating contests looks like this.

    2. “Just like there are professional eating contests, there should be professional pooping contests.”

      Why not combine the two?  “Ok everyone, stick around for a few hours to see the winner of the professional pooping contest.”

        1.  First guy looks pretty zen about it with his music, I feel for the poor second bastard, he must know he’s going to be all over the news, plus feeling that horrible sensation every time he takes a step. Kudos for keeping on going though.

  3. Also, I’m reminded of the old “Politenessman” comic strip in National Lampoon. Sometime in the ’80s there was one about a marathon runner suffering intestinal distress, trying to hold in gas. (“Here comes Gaston ‘Boom-Boom’ Flatulenza, followed by Aussie Ken Sniffit!”) Politnessman jogged up beside Flatulenza, and informed him in no uncertain terms that although you may pass a runner, you may not pass gas. Flatulenza held it in, at the cost of his own life.

    And that is the only reason I never became a professional marathon runner. That, and the fact that I hate running.

  4. Moss: “I’ve discovered that winning is not as fulfilling or as profound as when you are completely taken to your physical limit and, maybe, dumped off a little on the other side,” she says. “There is a sacredness to that place. Although there are probably ways to get there that are more graceful than what I did.”

    Made me lol. X-D

  5. >says former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Browns.

    Even being interviewed is too much for some, it seems.

  6. You may not be awares, but there is a cult following of people like this form a group known as the UDA (me thinks that stands for the United Defecators Alliance).  My friend, IBM, is active in UDA circles and they often debate things related to rhythmic defecation and the impact it can have in high performance situations.  IBM has said that there are instances nearly every week in the NFL when someone pulls a ‘Shatner’ but the NFL keeps all hush about it.  Apparently the UDA has lobbied congress and even once had a meeting with then Speaker Pelosi.

    It’s some weird stuff, but they swear it’s true

  7. The thought of the side line mister-fan brings this to a level Airplane could only begin to scratch.

  8. “2. I am so, so glad that I do not exercise at a level where my body has to make a choice between keeping my heart, lungs, and muscles working vs. providing all my other internal organs (including colon) with enough blood flow to remain functional.”

    This process is by no means exclusive to professional athletes – it’s normal functionality of a mammalian organism. For the same reason humans get pale when the are afraid – the body takes the blood away from “unnecessary” (less necessary at the moment) outer layers of skin to put it where it can help with fighting on running away.

  9. The article fails to mention one infamous case where England forward Gary Lineker shit himself on the pitch in front of millions during the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

  10. If there is one detail I already know, it’s that when Maggie says ” you will not regret reading it” about a disgusting topic, the reverse is almost always true.  Not falling for it this time.

  11. What ?  No Mention of Joe Paterno running from the side line to go potty?   To me that was the sign that Ol’ Joe was 10 years beyond retirement.

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