Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Win from Within

If you've ever been to a sporting event in recent years or watched one on TV, chances are you've seen large, orange coolers on the sidelines, players drinking from green water bottles with orange lids, or even a coach get dumped with a colorful liquid after a big victory. If you haven't, well, make sure to tune in to a sporting event soon and you'll see what I'm talking about. All of these sights are tied back to one creation that goes back almost 50 years, to a drink that has revolutionized the way athletes replenish and stay hydrated and to one of the most iconic symbols in all of sports: Gatorade.
Chicago Cubs 3B Kris Bryant is "showered" with Gatorade by teammates after a victory.

It all goes back to the spring of 1965, to a nephrologist at the University of Florida, Dr. Robert Cade. Cade, who was the director of the renal and electrolyte division at the university, was asked by assistant football coach for the Gators, Dwayne Douglas, why players lost so much weight in practice and games, but urinated so little afterwards. Cade learned that players were losing so much electrolytes when they sweat, specifically sodium and potassium, that it was interrupting the body's normal chemical balance. Thus, the more the players sweat, the more they lost their energy, strength, and endurance. Together with his team of researchers, Dana Shires, Jim Free, and A.M. deQuesada, Cade began studying the issue of dehydration on the football field through experiments with players on the football team. After a couple months of testing, results showed players electrolytes were out of balance, blood sugar was low, and blood volume was low. "Each of these conditions, by itself, would to some extent incapacitate a player," Cade mentioned, "Put them all together and you can have real problems." Soon enough, they had created a drink designed to rehydrate athletes by replenishing carbohydrates (sucrose and glucose sugars) and electrolytes (sodium and potassium salts). The sugar to keep the players' blood sugar going up, but not too much that it upset their stomachs, and the salts to replace the salt they lost in sweat. However, there was one problem: the taste. In fact, the taste was so bad the first time that players had to spit it out. But thanks to the addition of lemon juice, suggested by his wife Mary, Gatorade was born.
Gator lineman Chip Hinton testing Dr. Cade's creation in 1965.
As for Dr. Cade himself, he was a man of great character and a man who used his profession to help and serve others. His continuous drive for knowledge and learning led him to becoming an award-winning medical teacher and influential scientist. However, he was much more than that, describing himself as a "physician, musician, writer, poet, and inventor." Two of his greatest passions include music and automobiles, which has culminated in a collection of over 30 violins and over 60 Studebaker carriages and automobiles. In addition, to his invention of Gatorade, Cade is also credited with the creation of the first -shock-dissipating football helmet, a high-protein milkshake used by surgical patients, athletes, and cancer patients, and an innovative way to treat autism and schizophrenia through diet modification. Cade was a master at problem solving, which was where most of his ideas and inventions were directed. Whether through convergent problem solving or divergent, Cade was able to quickly identify problems and come up with helpful solutions. His background in the Lutheran faith motivated him and inspired him in all that he did, specifically helping and serving others. His work was a reflection of his Christian beliefs and he carried these ideals and values out in the way he treated people and the friendships he developed.
Dr. Robert Cade alongside his most famous creation, Gatorade.

Today, Gatorade brings in close to $2 billion in worldwide sales annually. It can be found on the sidelines of over 70 Division 1 colleges as the official sports drink of their intercollegiate sports, in addition to being the official sports drink of the NBA, MLB, and MLS. Gatorade continues to further its research and better enhance athletes everywhere, keeping them hydrated on the field and replenished off of it. So next time you're at a sporting event or watching one on TV, be on the lookout for that orange lightning bolt logo, and remember...you win from within. 


1 comment:

  1. I have participated in athletics my entire life and I struggle to imagine a time when Gatorade did not exist. I never knew the full story behind Dr. Cade until after this post and I find him and the product quite fascinating. When broken down, the idea and development behind Gatorade seems quite simple and straightforward that it is astonishing no one thought of it sooner. I believe that a key aspect of Dr. Cade’s creative process would be the inspiration of the time period. Nothing like this had existed before because we did not understand the body well enough to create it. As for Dr. Cade, he strikes me as an innovative, caring individual. One that can act as the inspiration for other future creators. His many attributes and accomplishments are a testament to his true inspirational nature. I believe actions define us more than our words do and the case of Dr. Cade is that of an astonishing individual who tried to help as many people as he could.


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