-itis: a suffix occurring in words that denote an inflammation or disease affecting a given part of the body (appendicitis; bronchitis; phlebitis); also forming nouns, often nonce words, that denote an obsessive state of mind or tendency facetiously compared to a disease (electionitis; telephonitis). —https://www.thefreedictionary.com/-itis

grandstand full of peopleWHATEVER WAY YOU use “itis” the results are not good. Along with the Industrial Revolution and the Machine Age, came the rise of spectatoritis. We no longer had to work so hard, and along with time saving devices came time on our hands. Along with less manual labor and even more time came the advent of the unfitness of Americans.

Now we have thousands in the stands and millions in front of the TV watching 11 gargantuan monoliths chase a ball and run into one another as we cheer the barbarian-like “play” often leading to permanent brain injuries.

It’s not just football but it is the one that seems to be the most dangerous. But it is also dangerous for us, the watchers, those who haven’t bothered to develop the talent or bodies required to play.

Richard Henry Edwards quoteWhat has happened to us? Why are we sitting and watching and not doing?

We have become a nation of watchers, a description to cover all kinds of passive amusement in an attempt to escape boredom. Long ago, or not really so long ago, we walked, worked, played, used our bodies to build this country. Then came leisure and instead of using it to satisfy our curiosity with reading, writing, art, culture, inventions, play, we pushed the buttons and sat down.

In 1938, long before most people were even aware of what was happening to Americans, Jay B. Nash wrote Spectatoritis. He argued that because we had not been confronted with so much time on our hands that, as a country we had not developed a “philosophy of leisure.” And that without this philosophy, the population was falling victim to what he dubbed “spectatoritis.”

Nash wrote several other books too: Building Morale in 1942 and Philosophy of Recreation and Leisure in 1953.

Below are quotes from that book for your thoughtful examination and consideration.

  • “They say that man needs to be prodded. He needs to face challenges; he produces best when facing problems that have to be solved in order that he might live.”
  • “When civilizations cease to face challenges they deteriorate and die.”
  • “When we have nothing to do we tend to go to sleep, physically and mentally, organically and cortically.”
  • “TV could become a great investment for teaching skills as it brings messages to both the eye and the ear.”
  • “Instead, young and old converse less, dance less, read less, play less.”

On July 11, 1955, at half past twelve Bonnie sat across the table from President Eisenhower and his wonderful wide grin, having been asked to attend a White House luncheon. “Spitless, I talked him through the Kraus-Weber Test,” she said. He acknowledged, with his big grin, that he was following her explanations and would be able to perform the tests for Minimum Muscular Fitness. Dr. Kraus then went on to describe the medical implications of what he was calling HYPOKINETIC DISEASE, and the role of inactivity in the production of disease: from coronary heart disease, diabetes, low back pain, psychiatric problems, muscle tension to obesity.

In other words, he forecast today’s epidemic of poor health. **

More common now than rumpus rooms for playing games and having conversations are the homes that include a theatre room. There we sit in windowless rooms with huge screens and speakers systems, in movie theater type chairs we sit… watching stuff.

We are no longer the doers, the risk takers. We are the spectators. We are allowed to experience vicariously the virtue of others, without having to prepare and practice them ourselves.


**For more information read my blog from June, 2013: The History, the White House, the Failure, the cost to Health Care….


If you have questions or need help, email me at enid@bonnieprudden.com.

For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®.