Want to fix childhood obesity? Bring back the Aggro Crag!

Published 8:15 am Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chances are that just about every person my age spent a great deal of time watching Nickelodeon while growing up. I know that I did.

I also know that one of my favorite things about Nickelodeon was the game shows. I was envious of those lucky kids who got the chance to go through the slimy obstacle course of “Double Dare,” or climb the fun-house-like mountain Aggro Crag on “Nickelodeon GUTS.” Of course, the holy grail — at least as far as I was concerned — was the victorious teams who got the chance to explore Olmec’s Mayan ruins at the end of “Legends of the Hidden Temple.”

Thanks to Youtube, I can now relive my childhood anytime I want by viewing some clips from those game shows. During a recent nostalgic session, it got me to thinking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of children in 2008 were reported as overweight or obese. Likely, that number is only going to get worse as more years pass.

Now, I’m not so naive as to think that there was no childhood obesity in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was growing up. Yet, at the same time, I can’t help but notice that every single one of those Nickelodeon game shows had some focus on the physical. Even “Make The Grade,” the Jeopardy-like show on Nickelodeon, featured random “Fire Drill” events where the players had to complete a stunt in order to improve their game standing. True, “Nick Arcade” was based on the sedentary activity of video game playing, but even that show’s bonus round featured a life-size video game where kids had to run around and collect items while dodging obstacles.

I have vivid memories of my brother and sister and I stacking boxes, or putting up pieces of cardboard to act as “doors,” so that we could devise our own Aggro Crag or Mayan temple. I remember when my parents bought us the home version of Double Dare, and we played that thing until the pieces wore out. Another time, they took us to a “Nick On Stage” show in Birmingham, Ala., where some of the lucky kids in the audience got to play versions of the games on stage. (Unfortunately my siblings and I weren’t so lucky. However, on a visit to Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Fla., my brother did get a chance to throw rubber chickens into my mom’s giant clown pants. But that’s a story for another column.)

Now, I have to be upfront and admit that I don’t watch Nickelodeon anymore, so I don’t know if they still have game shows or not. However, I would venture that even if they do, they’re nowhere near as physical or elaborate as the classic game shows.

It’s been said that media plays a big role in our growth, and certainly Nickelodeon is one of the major influences in any kid’s life. I wonder if bringing back some of those game shows, and showing kids having fun being physical might have a positive effect in our children’s lives. And that’s something we can all be happy about, no matter how old we may be.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.