ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: The Sweat Solution (2015)

Directed by David Beilinson & Neil Amdur

Gatorade has been a part of my athletic life for ever and ever, but it was curious doctor named Robert Wade at the University of Florida that originally developed the elixir to prevent the football team from dehydrating on hot Florida days at practice or during games. The problem that Wade encountered was the way the body processes water. We all think that water is the key to hydration, and it is, but along with water we sweat out tons of nutrients, most notably sodium and electrolytes. With water, it takes the body a long time to put it to use, causing a bloated feeling upon initial consumption. It keeps us from getting dehydrated, but in the world of fast, competitive sports, water was not a viable solution.

Enter Gatorade, a nasty formula created in the 1960s in Gainesville, Florida, in swampland. Upon its origin, the flavor was hardly pallet-able to players. Thankfully, Wade’s wife suggested adding lemon to the formula for better flavor. The Gators football team saw results immediately, outlasting the energy of opponents and often winning games in the fourth quarter while the other teams were tired and broken down. With Gatorade, Wade found a magical formula that entered the body and went right to work, so the player could seem immediate results without the bloating side-effects of water.

What makes the film all the more interesting, other than the fact that how has there never been a documentary about Gatorade before!?, is its creator, Robert Wade. Wade seems to be somewhat of an eccentric, dabbling in numerous hobbies including restoring Studebakers, playing the violin/viola, and seeking a solution to any problem presented to him (he even tried to develop a helmet when a colleague had a concussion). His creative appetite is what most great inventions are often fueled by. His appreciation of athletes was also a perspective I had never heard before. He describes the natural talents and reactions of athletes as impressive for their ability to complete geometry and physics in split seconds while playing the game. While that is impressive, Wade’s contribution to that computation is equally impressive. Many sports drinks have followed the original Gatorade, but nothing quite beats the original Lemon-Lime.

*** – Good

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