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 ...
Via Christopher Ryan
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.