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Q & A with Golf Legend Gary Player

Date: 3/9/11

On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 2 -- while attending SGMA’s 12th annual National Health Through Fitness Day in Washington, DC -- SGMA’s Director of Communications Mike May had a chance to ask South African golfing great Gary Player a few questions about his philosophies on physical fitness and health.

Question:  Here at National Health Through Fitness Day, one of the goals of this day of advocacy is to encourage Congress to recognize the importance of a continued emphasis on more physical education in America’s schools.  What is your simple, basic philosophy on the concept of getting more physical education in the schools?

Answer:  We’ve got to introduce more discipline in schools for more respect.  We’ve got to really put an emphasis on education because America, this phenomenal country, is not in the top 25 in the world in education and you should be number one with the facilities you have.  As far as fitness is concerned, it’s tragic.  Twenty-six percent of your youth are obese and over 60% of your population is obese so you have a massive tsunami on your hands to get that right.  And we’ve got to get the schools to bring in physical training – in fact, double it into schools.  We’ve got to get parents to stop feeding the children all this ‘bunkum’ that they eat and start giving them more vegetables, fruit and salads. 

Question:  What is your challenge to the U.S. Congress?  What role can they play in this process?

Answer:  I am not a politician and don’t get involved in politics, but I think the politicians can help in that they can influence people to allocate money to the schools to try and help the situation.  But it’s not always money which is the answer.  I was a very poor boy (growing up in South Africa), but I went to a good school that taught us about physical training.  If you do physical training, your grades will be better.  It’s a proven fact.  And you will live longer.  Anytime you start getting fat, you are going to die earlier.  There’s no question about it.  That’s basically it.

Question:  You are probably one of the fittest individuals in the country, even at the age of 75.  What kinds of things have you been doing in order to ‘practice what you preach?’

Answer:  I am a vegetarian, to start with, and, secondly, I still do 1,000 sit-ups every day.  If you took 100 young 20-year-olds off the street today, I think I’d whip them in a physical fitness test.  I’m proud of that.  I have travelled more miles than anybody who has ever lived and I am very busy around the world.  One of my great ambitions is to get this message across to the youth of the world that your body is a holy temple and you cannot do anything without health.  You’ve got to get this ingrained within young people that health is number one.

Question:  How is your golf game these days?

Answer:  Not bad.  I’m 75 and I break my age almost every time I play.  So, everything is going very well.

Question:  Do we expect to see you in the winner’s circle on the Champions Tour this year?

Answer:  Well, I’m the defending champion at the Legends event in Savannah in a month’s time and if we can win it, we’ll win it for the third time in a row, so you never know!

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