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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published March 26 2013

Ryan Bakken: Weighing in on the waist war

GRAND FORKS - For much of my adult life, I wouldn’t have qualified to be the commander of the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

You might think this disqualification was because of such factors as never being in the military, never attending officer school and never having leadership experience beyond the McKinley Elementary lunch line.

You would be correct on all accounts. However, there is yet another requirement that would prohibit any chance of being the recipient of hundreds of respectful salutes daily. You know where I’m going if you’re a loyal reader.

If you’re not a devotee, the reason is that my waistline sometimes has been north of 39 inches.

Last Thursday’s Grand Forks Herald carried a story about Col. Tim Bush, who was bounced from his leadership role because he didn’t meet the 39-inch waist limit.

This seems odd. At 6-foot-1 and 227 pounds, Bush is hardly a tub of goo. Photographs reveal a double-chin — but not three or four of them. Two chins should be acceptable at age 47.

A 47-year-old desk jockey who is 6-1, 227, in this day and age of thicker and thicker bodies? He hardly qualifies as a contestant on “The Biggest Loser.” Those dimensions are better than average in the civilian workforce.

It’s not as though, as commander, Bush may need to crawl two miles through a web of razor-wire. His job doesn’t require running a five-minute mile nor does it demand 100 situps in a minute.

However, Bush has passed the physical tests, such as the requirements for pushups, sit-ups and distance running.

If we took the Air Force’s reasoning into the civilian work force, there would be many disqualified leaders, starting with coaches who would no longer qualify to guide their sports teams.

Plus, may I suggest that not all 40-inch waistlines are the same? There are flabby 40-inch waistlines and taut 40-inch waistlines, such as those on NFL linebackers ... and the occasional newspaper columnist.