by Matt Weik
Lately we've seen a movement of bodybuilders criticizing other bodybuilders and casting shadows on the entire bodybuilding sport. It raises the question of whether there is a bodybuilder who is taller than the bodybuilding sport? Does ONE individual have so much influence that it can change the direction of sport? You know I like to keep it real and I'm an open book, so my thoughts could make some people angry. But they are my thoughts and opinions, so it works anyway.
No, it's not that important
I am a bodybuilding fan and have been around for about 20 years. I saw the sport change and evolve, and bodybuilders came and went. Some left a lasting impression while others retired, and we didn't even know they were retiring because they didn't miss anyone on stage. But why do bodybuilders start shitting where they eat?
See, when in business you start to express your opinion about the company and it starts to curl a few feathers, think your ass is canned. Thats how it works. Nobody wants cancer in the industry or in the company that can bring the entire organization to a standstill. The IFBB is no different. Has the IFBB taken some measures to deal with potential chaos? Absolutely. See what happened to Shawn Rhoden.
Listen … Shawn Rhoden has a lot of fans, but he's no bigger than the sport of bodybuilding. Although everyone campaigned for him in the 2019 Mr. Olympia competition, this did not happen. And guess what? In his absence, the Olympia grew in many areas and showed which bodybuilder is the flavor of the month, the show will go on with or without you.
Another person I've been thinking about for some time is Phil Heath. I know Phil personally because he was one of my athletes at MET-Rx when I worked for the company. I love the guy to death and think he's one of the greatest bodybuilders ever. But for some reason, he seems to feel that the Olympics and IFBB have something against him and refuse to show respect or speak to him before the Olympics.
Now Phil wants to make a film title like "Breaking Olympia" in which we can only imagine talking about his comeback on stage and possibly even a marketing trick for Athleticon where he can possibly make his welcome party skipping the Olympics. Do you think I'm crazy? Seven Bucks Productions is said to be the group involved in making this film a reality. Who owns Seven Bucks Productions? Dwayne Johnson and his ex-wife Dany Garcia. Both rely on Athleticon after this year's Olympia in Atlanta. Coincidence? I do not think so.
The question here is whether Phil Heath will step on stage at the Olympics or nothing, nothing will change for bodybuilding. The same applies to Shawn Rhoden and Big Ramy. Would the Olympia with all three be more exciting? For sure. The fact is, however, that these three guys were absent last year, but were still sold out and filled the entire arena – an even better idea than in previous years when everyone was on stage.
You made history … NOT sport
Arnold Schwarzenegger shaped the sport and has his own opinion about what bodybuilders should look like. He even has his own show group with the Arnold Classic. But Arnold is also no bigger than bodybuilding. He made it public that maybe they should test athletes (which will never happen). And that the athletes get a bloated stomach and get too big and that it distorts the lines from which bodybuilding used to be built. Guess what? His opinion didn't do anything. Competitors are still going on stage, crossing the £ 300 mark.
Then you have people like Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates who say that they don't like the looks of today's bodybuilders and that they wouldn't top 5 in their day and age. Have both Ronnie and Dorian played an important role in growing bodybuilding? Absolutely. Are they bigger than bodybuilding? Nope.
There are so many amazing bodybuilders from different eras who have shaped bodybuilding sport forever. However, NO bodybuilder will NEVER be taller than the sport of bodybuilding. And you can quote me, etch it in stone, time stamp it, or tattoo it on your forehead. There will NEVER be a bodybuilder taller than sport. Ever.
Why not help make sport BETTER?
As bodybuilding journalists, we are sometimes critical of shows, the looks of competitors, etc. But one thing is certain: we want sport to grow and develop – and it has. I don't see anything that slows down bodybuilding. While we compare shows like Athleticon or Arnold Classic with the Olympia, nothing will replace the Olympia. Competitors fight for their chance to reach the Olympic stage all year round. The same cannot be said of any other show. Not the Arnold Classic, not the New York Pro, not the Pittsburgh Pro, not a show. The Olympia is the highlight, the super bowl of bodybuilding.
Instead of thinking that bodybuilding needs bodybuilders more than they should, maybe they should be grateful for the opportunity to do what they love and make money with it? You could be here today and leave tomorrow, and while your legacy remains, the sport will continue. And it will continue to grow whether you are the focus of your posing swimming trunks or not. Everyone will eventually be replaced by the next generation. So, while you may mean something in sports right now, think about what sports can't do for you, but what you can do for sports while you have your time in it.