A group of physicians is warning American runners of a peculiar peril this summer—dangerously high levels of patriotism.
In a statement issued yesterday, the American Association of Doctors urged runners across the U.S. to "exercise extreme caution" between now and November to avoid a possible case of hyperpatriotica—a little-known condition that amounts to an unhealthy concentration of love for one's nation.
The AAD's warning is in direct response to Anheuser Busch's announcement that it
"is taking its longstanding tradition of patriotic packaging even further this summer by replacing 'Budweiser' with 'America' on the front of its 12-oz. cans and bottles."
While others mocked the company's move as silly, or criticized it as crass, the AAD was focused on how it might affect runners.
"It is not inconceivable, or even improbable," the group's statement read, "to imagine a scenario in which a runner shows up to, say, a Fourth of July 5K wearing American flag shorts and/or shirt, hears the National Anthem before the race, and finishes alongside a series of American flags while a nearby loudspeaker plays God Bless the U.S.A. or something similar."
"That runner's levels of patriotism would already be borderline-hazardous, approaching xenophobic," the statement continued. "Now imagine someone hands him a can of beer labeled America, festooned with phrases like E. Pluribus Unum and Liberty & Justice For All."
At a time like that, the doctors warned, even a few sips could push an otherwise healthy subject's patriotism levels well into hyperpatriotica.
What does that mean, in practical terms?
"You could see convulsions, racing heart, uncontrollable chanting of 'USA! USA!', itching," said AAD spokesman Dr. Barry Huffman. "Where Lee Greenwood songs are involved, nausea. Or worse. Hyperpatriotica victims have been known to suffer explosive red, white, and blue diarrhea."
"It isn't pretty."
Oddly, the group said, another symptom of hyperpatriotica is a sudden inability to resist awful puns, e.g.,
Oh boy, I am feelin' me some amber waves of PAIN.
Patriotic fervor? More like patriotic FEVER.
Stand back, guys—I'm about to red, white, and SPEW.
"Again," said Dr. Huffman, "not pretty."
Left untreated, the condition can lead to acute jingoism.
If you suspect someone is suffering from hyperpatriotica, the AAD says, take the following steps:
- Move the victim to a cool, shaded place.
- Direct any violent diarrhea away from innocent bystanders—and, if possible, onto any speakers playing Lee Greenwood.
- Remind your victim repeatedly that Bud is owned by InBev, a gargantuan brewing company based in Belgium. Belgium!
- Read to the victim from a copy of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
- Flush any remaining Budweiser from the victim's system with actual beer, such as a locally produced IPA, saison, or Kölsch.
Better still, Dr. Huffman said, is to minimize risk in the first place.
"As with any medical condition, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," he said. "If you see anything this summer that even resembles a Budweiser label, run—don't walk—in the opposite direction."